Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Anacreon...and on...and on...

Well, I've kind of finished Anacreon. It's a big and complex thing, big and complex. I started off with the ASCII version from the '80s, and then in my hunt for a manual to try and make some sense of the game, I discovered that it was still being updated. So I downloaded the latest version and that's what I played through to the end of one scenario. Anacreon is a huge space 4X game. The first empire ended thousands of years ago and many planets are only now rediscovering space travel. Yours is one of those. You kept some of the old secrets alive, and you're now starting out on the road to, well, on the road to conquer the galaxy. The game comes with a bunch of pre-built scenarios. As far as I could tell, they're the same ones that were with the game back in the '80s. The beginner scenario that I took was to find and defeat some pirates who had been terrorizing one sector of space. Of course, I pretty much had to forcefully conquer every other planet in the system in order to do that...there isn't really any diplomacy on offer here, which is actually a bit of a shame. You start by sending out probes and learning a bit more about your immediate surroundings. Planets can be of various types, and various technology levels. They might teeming with billions of inhabitants and a standing army, or they might be desert worlds with few people living on them - easy pickings, but not much good for establishing a base on. Different planets can be put to use for different things - mining for minerals, synthesizing chemicals, and so on, with different types of planets having different specialities. You have to settle the planets - getting enough food is the most important thing initially - and then get them working efficiently into their given role and contributing to your empire. Once you've got a good backbone of material production, you can set to work building more ships. As your technology level increases, you can build better ships and start constructing huge technologies such as space fortresses or warp gates. And you'd better be doing all of this quickly, because those pirates will be harassing your fleets and building up their own empire as you go. You'll also see revolutions and unrest on the worlds you've conquered - usually people get upset if you leave a large military force there - so there's a bit of busy work transporting troops around and keeping people happy while putting down riots where they occur. It was fairly slow-paced, but I enjoyed my time with it. The only thing I didn't get was any kind of ending acknowledgement. I destroyed what I think were all of the pirate worlds within the allotted time limit but nothing happened. I then waited for the time limit to expire, but still nothing happened...the game just carried on. I don't know if you're just supposed to do your own victory dance when you win? Anyway, the other thing is that the game is really supposed to be played multiplayer - either PVP or co-op. Obviously, I didn't try that, but I think it would have been great fun. So, it's another little gem that I was expecting not to like, but turned out really enjoying.

Next up on the randometer is...Defender of Boston: The Rock Island Mystery! It vaguely rings a bell, but I don't really know anything about it. I'll keep picking at Tomb Raider in the mean time - it's a much bigger game than I remember. I've had a little free PS3 time in the evenings recently, too, so I've made a start on the new Tomb Raider there. It's been interesting comparing them.

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