Good Fridiary – XCOM – The Pen is Mightier than the Plasma Rifle – Part I

They’ve been warning us for decades, but it took a planet-wide attack for us to sit up and take note. Now these geniuses, these precogs, these science fiction writers are all that stand between us and extinction.

[Note: This is a Classic Iron Man runthrough of XCOM. No reloads, no regrets. I’ve also selected the Not Created Equally and Hidden Potential Second Wave options because they sound like they’ll make things a little more interesting. My team will be handpicked from the history of science fiction writing… Let’s just hope the publishing gender bias doesn’t affect my team building too greatly.]


Our base of Operations is in the Congo region, and our first mission is in our back yard – Durban, South Africa. The team puts down their pens for long enough to get geared up and onto the Skyranger.
Whoever named the operation must be familiar with the local area. This used to be a small fishing port but now it’s a graveyard. The only thing that smells worse than the green slime coating the people here is the smell of rotting sea life.

I move C.S. Lewis to the ladder welded on the side of a corrugated iron office/shack, but before he can start to climb he sees a trio of greys on the far side of the shack. I set the rest of the team up, and Ursula K. Le Guin takes a shot at an alien, but fires wide.

Another trio bursts out from within the shack, flanking some of my team, and generally throwing a spanner in the works. How Lewis saw the far enemies and not the near ones, I don’t know – but if there’s one thing I’m quickly learning about dead writers, is that they’re even more unreliable than living ones.

I have Mary Shelley stay back and face the new threat while the others continue moving forward to engage and take cover from both groups of sectoid. Shelley takes one out with a grenade, before getting shot up badly. I have her fall back to the others so we can reinforce our position.

The fight continues until five X-Ray are dead, and only one remains, now inside the shack. Arthur C. Clarke takes up a position next to the window, and I consider having him lob a grenade through, but our Head Researcher, Dr. Vahlen, wasn’t happy about it the last time. He takes aim with his Assault Rifle… and misses.

I run C.S. Lewis past the window to take position, but the movement grabs the alien’s attention and he fires a burst of searing, green plasma that tears Lewis to bloody pieces. So much for the team up of Lewis and Clarke.

Clarke and Shelley both panic, but Ursula K. Le Guin remains calm under pressure. Vahlen won’t like me using explosives again, but it’s the only cure I know for Panic. Ursula throws her frag through the window and decimates the last sectoid standing.

I’d rather we hadn’t lost C.S. Lewis so early on in the piece, but he was an imposter anyway, and his parables were terribly transparent. All in all I call the mission a complete success. The team grabs the dead alien bodies, and the corpse of Clive and board the Skyranger for home.

I waste no time in getting the scientists to start cutting open the dead sectoids, while I task the engineers with building me a power station, a satellite and a couple of medkits. I put out a call for some more writers – so we’ll see who turns up in another few days.

Alien abductions at a construction site in Kolkata, India. Arthur C. Clarke is back from the infirmary but Le Guin and Shelley are still out. Rounding out the team are Rookies Douglas Adams, L. Ron Hubbard and James Tiptree Jr. I tell Tiptree that she can use her real name here at XCOM, but she won’t hear of it.

Is the team ready for whatever they’re about to face on the ground in India? No, not at all.



New Growth – Brutal Review of Brütal Legend

Brütal Legend may have come out on console in 2009, but in this house that means nothing. It made its PC debut just a few weeks ago, so after all these years I’ve finally had a chance to delve into it.

Like Metalocalypse before it, Brütal Legend brings to life the ridiculous excess and gore-encrusted splendor of capital-M Metal. That two completely disparate pieces of visually stunning and aurally arresting pop-culture can come from plumbing the depths of Metal just goes to show how deep those quarries go… But as a game, is Brütal Legend any good?

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Lumbarjack – Gemini Rue Odin’s Drag Race

After experiencing a Golden Age in the 80s and 90s, point and click adventure games were largely abandoned by the games industry, left to gather dust in a basement somewhere. Now with the likes of Double Fine and Amanita Design bringing attention back to the genre, some of the spotlight is falling on a handful of other, notable adventure games. Gemini Rue is one such game.

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Generation P – Knee Deep in the DoomRL

I’ve played quite a lot of DoomRL previously and promptly forgot about it – not because it’s a bad game (quite the opposite, in fact), but because there are always so many games vying for attention. This week, however, Kornel Kisielewicz and Derek Yu released an update and I decided to venture back out to the moons of Mars to check it out. Continue reading


Lumbarjack – Shanksploitation

Shank is what happens when you take side scrolling beat-em-up classics like Double Dragon and Golden Axe, mix in a story taken straight out of Robert Rodriguez and Quentin Tarantino’s filmographies, and add a dash of mediocre platforming for good measure. But does it work? Continue reading