The Lost Reviews – Etherium

15 06 2016

Etherium

When Cavedog Entertainment first released Total Annihilation in 1997, they couldn’t have imagined what kind of impact it was going to make. To this day Total Annihilation is still one of the most beloved and talked about PC games out there, and has since become the lead inspiration for several, ‘spiritual successors’; including games like Supreme Commander, Planetary Annihilation, Meridian: New World; and now…there is another one.

Planetary Annihilation

Etherium is a real-time strategy game heavily inspired by games like Total Annihilation, but also contains the D.N.A. and accessories of other well-known games including Halo Wars. In Etherium, you are one of 3 different factions, racing for control of a super powerful form of fuel known as Etherium. Your job is simple, you need to colonise planets to gain Etherium. There is a major problem however in the form of other empires plus several tribal like factions who want claim of Etherium and eventual control of the universe. To this end, you need to build and grow colonies, create military units to defend yourself with and purge all these power-hungry maniacs unlike you from anywhere where you stake claim to.

Etherium 3

For the most part; Etherium is a ground based real-time strategy game. When you start a match, you begin with one big base. If this one base is destroyed, your game ends and you lose. As the level gets going you will need to claim and defend territories as fast as you can so you can then gather as much Etherium as possible to build your forces and destroy your enemies. Etherium does things differently to a lot of similar RTS games in how you play it. Most games like these include several different forms of resources which need to be independently collected at the same time. In Etherium, there is only one main resource: Etherium. This makes the game rather easy to pick up and play for both experienced and inexperienced gamers of the genre. Another thing Etherium has is no need for Radar. The map is split up into territories; in each of these is something of a node: if you take it, you have full view and control of that territory. This removes the need for Radar which can be quite annoying when you are nearing the end of the level and are still looking for one random tank or builder. As for resource gathering, Etherium appears in only a few territories with in the map. If you have somewhere where you can collect it, it’s collected automatically as soon as a building is built on the resource location. You can increase the speed of collection and gathering by building extensions onto your colonies and any nodes you take over. These extra buildings do specific things once built ranging from Etherium refineries to spaceports. Each one does a different thing but greatly helps you in the need of battle.

Military construction is a lot different too as units are not really built but rather delivered. You basically choose from a side menu what unit you want (ranging from infantry, tanks, planes and titans) and then the unit is delivered to your base. You need to select where you want them delivered to and they can only be delivered to locations with a spaceport next to them. Sending them into battle can then be done the usual way of left clicking on a unit, then right clicking where you want that unit to go. Alternatively you can call in an air drop which will deliver the units directly to where you want them to go. But while your main goal is to rid yourself of the main villain on the map, you will also need to pay attention to one if not several local alien races. They are automatically hostile if you go anywhere near them. There is a way around this however, as you can make peace with them and then call them to your aide. If you don’t do this however, the enemy might and then you will have more than one alien race on your hands. One thing Etherium has though over other RTS games though is the option of a second way of achieving victory. The first way is the above stated way of destroying the enemies’ main base. No need to worry about all other units on the map, destroy that and you win. The other way though is an ingenious way of winning, even if on the ground you are losing. That is to build guns that attack the enemy fleets. These fire automatically once you have enough resources to build them and then it’s a simple matter of waiting until the enemy fleet is destroyed, in which case you win no matter how badly you are losing on the ground. In Etherium’s conquest mode you build fleets then send them to enemy planets, upgrade your forces and unlock new weapons to send into battle. There is no clogging down with huge amounts of story neither, there is some detailed background into the races which is revealed before conquest mode, but as soon as you complete the tutorial, you are just left to your own devices.

Etherium 1

Etherium is a nicely put together game. It features methods of gameplay as yet inexistence in the RTS genre and its ways of controlling the battlefield and winning the map are nice additions too. The game is superbly animated and it’s a lot of fun just watching colonies get built and units delivered. The colonies themselves are nicely detailed too. However the game does have some rather large issues to contend with. While its colonies and structures plus units are nicely animated and built, its units are rather static. What I mean by this is that there is a lack of movement in the heat of battle, they just sort of take on a formation and stay in that formation quite well, but it just doesn’t feel alive or realistic. There is no evasion or moving around to get a much clearer shot. While there is some evidence and advantage of cover, it just seems like the hits from weapons land a bit randomly. While units are nicely thought about and cleverly include units which are better at some things than other units, the lack of life and movement in the heat of battle just doesn’t look aesthetically pleasing. The camera is a bit dodgy too as there just doesn’t appear to be any sort of Zoom functionality, which when everything else comes up 2D in the face means that doing stuff like dropping off units can be rather clumsy. The controls themselves are nicely tuned and the way of building colonies plus the need of building certain units are nice additional features but overall are let down by some of the game’s imperfections.

Galactic Colossus

There is another thing too which gripes me about this game which is a primary unit in games of this kind. That is in the use of large/giant units. In Etherium they are known as titans, extremely big units that could lay waste to the entire map providing no-one else has one. Units like this have been a main stay of the genre since the addition of the Krogoth in Total Annihilation: The Core Contingency and have appeared in other games like Supreme Commander in the form of ‘Experimental Units’. The problem I have with them in Etherium is the need of them. Battles can take long amounts of time depending on how well defended an opponent is. The bigger and stronger plus the advantage of a unit can turn the tide of the battle within a split second, so why should armies feel the need to build something like a Titan if smaller units in theory can do it just as well? Why should Titans even be in this game unless they serve a certain purpose? Why can’t it be that a game like Etherium with its idea of specialized units just be a game with them and only them? No need for a unit that can destroy everything, it’s more about learning the strengths and weaknesses of each unit and find a way to counteract them. Because really the only way to counteract a titan in Etherium…..is to build your own titan.

Etherium 2

Etherium on the whole is a nice little game, one that can easily consider itself equal alongside other ‘so-called’ spiritual successors to Total Annihilation. As for the game itself, it introduces new forms of gameplay as yet unseen, has some nicely crafted in game pieces, animates them really well and doesn’t bog down players in lengthy uninteresting story plots in its conquest mode. On the downside however its graphics and units feel lifeless and static and I think over-does it with the titan units just by including them. There is a lot to like about this game and it is reasonably enjoyable, it’s just held back by clumsy bits and bobs which don’t help it in any way shape or form.

Etherium 4

GENEPOOL





What To Do With Heathrow

4 06 2014

Heathrow

I don’t know if you watched Question Time on BBC One last week, oh you did. Well for those who didn’t, the show was being held in the brand new Terminal 2. Now I thought that Terminal 2 had been in existence well before the construction of Terminal 5. You’d think that wouldn’t you. Well apparently it has been re-built and will apparently eventually cover Terminal 1 and 3 as well. Fun little fact there. Anyway, because of where they were they used it as a chance to YET AGAIN discuss the construction of a third runway at Heathrow and the construction of Boris Island, or the “London Britannia Airport” as it has now been dubbed. So as a fan of the hit show MegaStructures and also someone who is very much interested in Large Buildings and Aircraft particularly of the large variety as well as having had enough of a load of complaining hippies talking over and over again about why a third runway is bad for the environment (yet not mention how useful it might be for the economy, or maybe they are saying they just don’t want a job) I thought I would give my own analysis as well as opinion as to what I think they, as in the airport people (whatever they’re called) should do. So let’s start with the third runway.

BI

That’s what I honestly think. The largest and busiest in the United Kingdom and the third busiest in the world and yet for a currently four soon to be 5 terminal airport, there is only two runways. How is it supposed to cope or even reach maximum capacity if it all the terminals are restricted to 2 terminals? That’s a case of two and a half terminals to one runway. Surely the largest of those terminals should have at least one to itself allowing the other four to share one runway each? Now it has always been the case that one thing has stood above most about Heathrow and that is noise pollution. Heathrow is in a busy area, it is not really on the outskirts of London at all, it is in a built up area. But most of that area is housing and people have complained for years about the amount of noise being produced at the airport. Now I can understand that, who would want to live in that, all the sound being produced, I bet you don’t you get much sleep. So in the case of those living in the area I can see why a third runway would be a problem. Fair enough. So I think in that case then it should be the case that instead of a third runway at Heathrow, why not a second at Gatwick instead? I don’t hear anyone complaining about that, I am actually surprised that a second runway at Gatwick does not exist at all. Second largest and busiest in the UK, why not?

Terminal 5

While it is the case that a third runway will cause a lot of sound problems as well as a lot of dreary talk from hippies about global warming and whales – even though I don’t know what giant metal birds and their giant concrete nests have to do with whales? But on the up side, a third runway will create a lot more available uses for traffic at the airport and as such will create jobs to service such traffic and increase income from the airport. So theoretically a third runway; or if not that, a second at Gatwick should help to boost the economy for years to come. So, for the benefit and prosperity of the UK, it should be built. Now as for Boris Island.

RTBI

When I was first shown pictures of the proposed Boris Island, (so named due to it being put forward in some capacity by London Mayor and coolest man in UK politics, Boris Johnson) several years ago, I liked the idea of it. Based on Hong Kong International Airport with two terminals with a runway for each one and build it in the Thames Estuary. I have always liked the idea of it, but over the years they have over thought about the idea. It has gone from a relatively small airport design to something so big and costly that they are now suggesting that if it gets built that they close down Heathrow. Now I can understand that a six runway is better than a two runway airport. But I don’t understand why Heathrow should be closed. What would the point in that be?

Boris Island

Closing down an airport that cost billions to build for one that’s going to cost billions to build and create a giant waste ground in the middle of a built up area that will be unable to serve only one purpose, being an airport. While it does bring up development ideas and possibilities of real estate and entertainment, which could take years to do, and knowing what this country is like, years before anything is approved. So it would more likely become a giant play park for kids and immature youths of all ages as well as a possible scene for drug dealing and other immoral crimes. The only way of preventing that would be to immediately demolish everything once it was closed down, but as stated before, it would take years to approve even after the closure of the airport. It will look a lot like that episode of Top Gear with that Airport in Spain.

Abandoned Airport

What I think should be done is easier. Build Boris Island in its original format, two runways, two terminals (and maybe include the connection to the new London Gateway Port to possibly include an ocean liner and cruise ship dock too, just an idea), build it in the Thames estuary and instead of closing down a fully functioning and large airport, close down a much smaller one; London City Airport. Boris Island is very close to that side of the city and if it were to be able to cope better than London city, close that one down instead. That way, there will be two large airports assisting both a large city and the country instead of one, and real estate opportunities for close to the city center will pop up quickly instead of a 5 mile wasteland.

Deserted Airport

While that is a more brief overview of what I think they should do, I believe it is a lot more valid an idea than the one they, as in government and airport people are seemingly wanting to go through with in both directions. In the end it is really up to them, but I think they are going about the whole thing the wrong way and in many respects need their hands banging together. But as once again stated previously, it will be a long time, more than 20 years probably, before anything is approved.

Airport Vehicle On Motorway

GENEPOOL





Godzilla News – Main Trailer

26 02 2014

Godzilla 2014 (Legendary Pictures - 2014)

Back in early December, if you had your eyes on YouTube or at the same time, this blog, you may have seen this (alternatively if you had not been looking at YouTube or this blog, you may not have seen this).

That’s right, the first trailer for the new Legendary Pictures Godzilla film. The trailer depicted a bunch of paratroopers falling out of the sky and descending upon San Francisco when a large shadow is spotted. The trailer then showed other scenes from the upcoming film including scenes of the films cast before showing a dusty image with something moving behind it then roaring. Well almost three months have passed but now a new and main trailer for the biggest film this year was released yesterday. Well, let’s not hang about, let’s take a look.

The new trailer looks amazing. It opens up with a conversation, ok, more like rambling from one of the film’s main cast; Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston, and one other unidentified character. He talks of something that is coming, with scenes of mass devastation to put meat on the bones. Then there are water shots of water’s rising and flooding a city. This is then followed on by talk from Ken Watanabe who talks to another as yet unidentified character about something that appeared in 1954 (interesting choice of date) and that the testing of nuclear weapons in the area were attempts to kill the thing and not actually tests. The trailer then shows more scenes of devastation with planes falling out of the sky, giant explosions in the distance, san Francisco on fire, giant animal bones. And then it all wraps up with city scenes, a giant roar and the appearance of the film’s main star.

Godzilla 1954

The trailer is amazing It, in itself is a teaser trailer as the film talks about something, something coming, something that appeared, something they tried to kill, it then shows scenes of devastation plus a soundtrack which sounds absolutely horrifying, then build into this little teaser’s or tasters of a creature of gigantic proportions, and not just big, REALLY BIG, and then wrap it all off with his blood curdling roar, and then an appearance from him. We got something mega special with the teaser trailer a few months ago, this just adds to it.

Godzilla Beach

There is now less than three months to go until this film is released, but already, I am impressed, both as a viewer and a Godzilla fan. It is still going to be a case of wait until the film comes out and then see what happens; but already, I think it’s better than that 1998 film, and that is a good sign.

Godzilla San Francisco

GENEPOOL (Any chance of seeing his atomic breath anytime soon?).








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