XCOM 2

SKNR-Logo-1-1024x582-bicubic

Back in the day when having a 486 CPU make you the envy of many gamers, game called XCOM arrived and quickly establish the bar for which all other turn-based strategy games would be judged against. The sequel XCOM: Terror From The Deep was also very worthy but sadly subsequent entries and the series including a flight Sim, Exo-Suit Combat game, and a canceled first-person shooter left the game pretty much being a fondly remembered relic of an age long ago. When 2K 10 the rights to the franchise and put out the very solid XCOM: The Bureau and X-Com, fans could not be happier. XCOM was a modern day turn-based strategy game that contains all the elements that made the original game such a success along with updated graphics and capabilities that are made possible by today’s modern computers.

The success of the game spawned XCOM 2 were once again players must take command of the team of soldiers fighting against an alien incursion.
This timeout players need to command a resistance unit and as before, delegate valuable resources to areas such as combat research, weapons research, scientific research, base expansion, equipment, and much more.

From there base players are free to upgrade the facilities, research new technologies, select which missions to take, and which soldiers and equipment to use. The level of detail is so high that players can even promote their troops, and mourn fallen comrades at the base Memorial.

Typically a player quips their vehicle and assigns squad of soldiers to a combat area where they can use their relegated turn units to move, take cover, assume support position, attack, reload, and so much more. When a turn is complete, players must watch while the enemy takes their turn and he can be a little frustrating to have your poor helpless Squaddie cut down in their prime by enemy you did not notice.

The enemies are extremely advanced, well-armed, incapable of Psionic powers such as being able to mind control your troops and even raise the dead which can be very frustrating is nothing is more demoralizing than cutting down an elite enemy unit only to see them resurrected back in the game.

As with the best elements of the series you’re constantly in an arms race to research new technology and weaponry to keep up with the enemy and just when you think you have turned the corner. The enemy will roll out new units and weaponry to once again put you at a disadvantage. Combine this with the fact that resources and funding are always paramount to your success, players must always maintain good relationships with there’s financial supporters as a lack of funds is more deadly than any combination of alien assaults.
The game is graphically impressive and highly diverse as there are multiple styles of play that can be employed which gives the game an unparalleled level of strategy. It should also be noted that the game is exceedingly difficult at times and I spoke to one player who said that he nearly deleted the game several times while playing it in frustration but was glad he stuck it out because the final confrontation was absolutely epic.

There is a multiplayer mode for the game that allows players to assemble a trained team of units and take on various challenges and while entertaining, I must admit that I spent the majority of my time playing the campaign mode but look forward to playing this more in the future.

XCOM 2 is a very worthy sequel that in many ways surpasses the original in terms of a deeper and more intense story and gaming experience that really draws you in. One can almost feel the horror at seeing the latest alien terror up close and watching your squad members could cut down as you desperately attempt to achieve the mission objective. Whether you want a dose of nostalgia or a solid challenge, I highly recommend XCOM 2 as it is not only a first rate game, it is one of the best games of the year and likely will be the recipient of several awards in the not too distant future.

5 stars out of 5.

Eddie The Eagle

SKNR-Logo-1-1024x582-bicubic

by Ryan Guerra

Based on a true story, this film tells the story of Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards’s journey from childhood as he chases his dream of someday representing his home country of Britain in the Olympics. When Eddie’s dreams seemly are coming to an end he looks to defy his naysayers by becoming the first Olympic Ski Jumper to represent Britain in the modern Olympic era.

Taron Egerton (Kingsman: Secret Service) does a marvelous job playing Eddie. He portrays the good natured soul of this un-athletic and socially awkward yet endearing hero. As a result, he not only wins the hearts of the people around him, but of audiences as well. Coupled with the hard charismatic and athletic contrast of Hugh Jackman, who plays an ex-ski jump champion Bronson Peary, the two shine together in their contrast but find an unexpected friendship that provides opportunity for one and redemption for the other.

Through the course of the film, it is hard to not be inspired by someone who is whole-heartedly chancing his dream. As such, I would best described Eddie The Eagle as the “feel good movie of the year.” A clichéd and premature description this early in 2016, but appropriate nonetheless. Take the family to this delightful film.

4 out of 5 stars