Tag Archive: Star Trek Timelines

Gaming Catch-Up

I keep trotting out this phrase – and its variants – but post move, I’m starting to rejoin my life.  And catch up with gaming, of course.  So this blog post will be a brief catch up on games, both video and board.

First on the list: the Doomsday Heist on GTA Online.  Essentially, James Bond is in the world of GTA online.  First of all, you need to buy a “facility”, an underground bunker not entirely unlike one used by a supervillain.  But relax, you’re not the supervillain.  Once you buy the facility, you’ll be contacted by Lester who has an opportunity for you…

I won’t ruin the story should you not have indulged, it’s a pretty good one, as these things go.  There are three parts to the heist and each part has a number of missions, both a set-up and the mission itself.  Set-ups typically involved undertaking an activity on a lobby map so other players can interrupt you and make your life miserable.  Missions are undertaken independently of the main lobby.  Anyone in your organisation or motorcycle gang (you need to be a CEO or Chapter Leader) can help in the set-ups and a minimum of two players are required to do the heists missions and finale.

Sales aside, the cost of purchasing a facility is several million dollars which is a significant in-game investment but the pay offs after each part of the overall heist are very much worth it.  But perhaps the key part of the Doomsday Heist update are the new vehicles available, including (and I’m not using the in-game names) the flying DeLorean with missiles (aka Flying Troll Car), Lotus Submersible, the Jet-Pack and others.  There’s also the Avenger – a mobile flying base like the big-rig introduced in part two of the Heist.  Lots of stuff for players to indulge in.

Each Facility can be pimped out, has storage for a number of cars and has a few optional extras.  These include strike teams to target other players, a receptionist to hand out free snacks & Pegasus Concierge services and perhaps the most interesting feature, the orbital cannon.  Instadeath on another player – it costs a lot to fire but can be satisfying to get back at trolls.  There’s also the usual deathmatches and other lesser vehicles in the update but most people don’t care about them.

Next on the list: Star Trek Timelines.  Version 4 of the game was released t’other week, the main updates were around rewards in the cryovault for immortalising specific groups of characters (races, traits etc) and more options for organising your crew, making it easier to compare, see who needs upgrading etc.  For those of us playing over two years, collecting the rewards for immortalising characters was amazingly rewarding.

Nothing new with Animation Throwdown except the addition of a new category of card: animal.  Been getting back into Wolfenstein 2: The New Colossus after a long hiatus.  Managed to get past the Roswell base and into the Uberkommando assassination missions.  Still refused to change from “normal” difficulty into easy although shouting at the Xbone is more the rule rather than the exception.

And in board games: I bought myself Ticket To Ride: France/Old West edition for my birthday as well as Eldritch Horror: Masks of Nyarlathoep expansion.  And P&D gave me a copy of Unstable Unicorns with the rude expansion pack. Haven’t tested any of them out though.  Gave away Scotland Yard to a work colleague and need to start putting my other games on eBay soon.  At KKOB’s yesterday, I played Power Grid for the first time and Small World with a number of expansion packs (except the Pirate one).




From where I sit, I’ve no idea when this blog was last updated but I’m sure it’s at least a month ago. My inability to be a good correspondent continues unabated – but don’t feel too left out folks, I’m neglecting others as well. I have a free hour in which to compose something for posterity so here we go.

Core Themes: Video Gaming, Board Gaming. In board gaming, my latest acquisitions are Sushi Go Party and a new one by Repos Games called Secrets, both of which were bought in the Swansea board game shop, The Gamers Emporium. Secrets is a hidden identity game, not unlike Avalon or Resistance but players score points and their identities can change in the course of the game. It provides a fresh take on the hidden identity game and is well worth checking out. I’ve also tracked down the 7 Wonders promo cards and a copy of the Catan Wonder for my collection which are on order.

In video gaming, there hasn’t been much outside my regular games. Star Trek Timelines have introduced the Starbase feature. When missions are completed, they drop components for upgrading Starbase rooms and you have to work together in fleets for perma-bonuses for your characters or to raise the Chroniton cap. Animation throwdown is about to have its one-year anniversary next week with gifts for players and our guild is doing pretty well at the moment. GTA Online launched the Smugglers Run update (basically huge planes that drop bombs) which I’m resisting for now – when there’s a “sale” on, then I’ll move into that feature, otherwise I’ll stick with the gun running type missions.

August wasn’t a bad month, for the most part. The weather turned ugly, much to the joy of a lot of people. After a really muggy, sweaty summer, having the temperatures hover around 21-22 degrees was a welcome respite. I had a little time off of work, kept things manageably quiet for the most part and finally got around to having a clear out of surplus and broken stuff. Two rubbish sacks of clothes got the chop, my small suitcase which had two old Sky decoders and my two broken 3DS XL consoles, one rubbish sack full of recycling (papers etc), one rubbish sack of just stuff destined for landfill/incinerator. My Xbox360 is going to go to CEX once I wipe the memory and I might take my old 3DS & DS games to be sold at the same time. That said – I haven’t decided if I’m definitely getting the Xbox One X when released in November.

Oh, we topped the Vauxhall Griffin Season 23 competiton ; god knows how. 

Stressful week – other people in hospital with serious stuff. No further details but hard times indeed.

Les Jeux Nouveaus

Most of my gaming purchases in recent months have been of the board variety and as a consequence, I’ve been replaying a lot of my existing content. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, if you spent between £20 and £50 on a new Xbone game for example, you want a lot of replay out of it. Even so, I have been hankering after something new to do for a while.

It started with Animation Throwdown – I’ve seen the adverts through Star Trek Timelines and decided to download a copy to my iPad. The goal of the game: trading card battles! It features the shows Family Guy, Futurama, Bob’s Burgers and King of the Hill and each of the shows has character, item or location trading cards with which to do battle. Trading cards can be fused in-battle to produce more powerful weapons with which to fight your opponent and come in varying degrees of availability when it comes to card drops (hint – lots of DLC for purchase)

The game itself has several modes: a quest mode, an arena mode where players do battle but not in real-time (decks are pre-loaded and the computer fights on your behalf), several time-restricted events for rewards and the ability to research new card fusions. In terms of gameplay activity, there’s far less than something like Timelines but the number of cards available (about 400 at time of writing) and the combinations possible keep things novel and interesting. Plus the actual card fights are over fairly quickly so you’re not sucked into a vortex of time when playing. It’s a nice acquisition, lots of fun had and the number of adverts you can watch for rewards (as opposed to spending extortionate amounts of money) help players who don’t necessarily want to or cannot pay-to-win. Unless you’re on a strict data-plan, of course. What I will say is that Animation Throwdown is a massive battery guzzler. If I play for thirty minutes, my iPad’s power will drop by almost 15% compared with similar applications which might drop by 5%.

Game number 2: Fallout Shelter. I only downloaded (for free) this because I wanted the Fallout stickers for iMessage. But I thought I’d give the game a bash and I have been enjoying it. Premise: build your own Vault-Tec vault, stuff it full of settlers and help them deal with the trials and tribulations of the Wasteland. You start each new Vault with a number of settlers and can recruit more either by building a radio station to lure them in, by breeding male/female couples together or from Vault Tec lunch box rewards. They can be trained in each of the S.P.E.C.I.A.L. stats to increase their abilities either farming resources or constructing items more quickly. And they can be sent on quests, either to collect stuff in the Wasteland or to undertake missions for rewards – and there are any number of missions that one can send settlers on.

I’ve been enjoying this for two weeks now and the missions are my favourite part. DLC is much lighter but naturally it is there (no adverts). It’s not really game-breaking DLC, you can buy pets to further enhance stats of settlers, Vault-Tec Lunchboxes for random drops and Mr Handy units who auto-collect resources when assigned to floors. And the sticker pack for iMessage is a cute addition too.

Game 3: Season Pass for Batman: the Telltale Series. So I downloaded Episode 1 for free (this is how they get you) and have to say that the story writing and different take on the Dark Knight was of high calibre. It’s an interactive story book, kinda like a choose-your-own-adventure where you play the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman and interact with a five-part story. Each decision the player makes will have an impact on the storyline and subsequent player choices lead to different results. I would say that compared with the Walking Dead Telltale Series, there’s a lot more action in this game, particularly in the combat scenes. It also helped influence me that the season pass was half price in the Xbone Easter sale.

Game 4: Season Pass for Batman: Arkham Knight. Not played yet but I’ve wanted this for a while. Unlike Fallout 4, I only wanted to buy this in a sale but I’m looking forward to the extra story modes with Robin, Batgirl and Nightwing. The skins and different Batmobiles…meh, can take or leave. I am still in early days of my second Arkham Knight playthrough, will be interesting to muck about with the skins if nowt else.

Game 5: Call of Juarez: Gunslinger. An old Xbox 360 game, I was looking for something in the same vein as Wolfenstein: The New Order a while back and thought that this might fill the gap quite nicely. Sorta puts you in the mind of a rail shooter in some ways given the way the game is animated but is more FPS. Cruder than Gun or Red Dead Redemption, it has some RPG type elements but is mostly a shooter through and through. Good voice acting, crude controls – excellent mindless fare. Totally worth playing.


Viva Forever

Last week saw some of the most typical British summer weather possible. Temperatures fell to “do I dare turn on the radiator” levels and then rose to “break out the fans”. And there was of course, an entire day of rain which although inconvenient, did at least wash a lot of the tree pollen into the gutter. By the weekend though, the pollen was back and with reinforcements. Had to (reluctantly) break back into my antihistamines in order to keep on top of the hay fever. Still, things will only get worse – sleepless nights, noisy weekends (because of the free parking on Rita Road) and insects galore. But there’ll be irritating, patronising weather reporters gushing forth with all sorts of positive adjectives about the weather for the next three months (Carol Kirkwood is top of the list of annoying). I demand an alternate weather forecast for the cynical, the nihilists and the vampires amongst us.
Tuesday’s quiz: came third (with our 2 point deduction for winning). Guffed up a lot in the second half and I’m deeply ashamed to say that I answered correctly a question on the Spice Girls. Couldn’t touch alcohol though, drank way, way too much on Monday morning and came into work feeling rougher than sandpaper wrapped in barbed wire. So stuck to the lemonade…

Wednesday Games: We finally broke out the Cities expansion pack to 7 Wonders and played three of games (made soft-shell tacos to accompany) with the new packs. I didn’t get a look in at the two new wonders (Petra & Byzantium) personally but Paul got Petra. Brendan won two of the games and I won one by falling back on the “putting all eggs in one science basket” approach. The “black cards” proved very useful in being able to acquire resources for free – in the game I won, I only bothered with three stone and one papyrus total + commerce & black card buildings. Think luck rather than skill had a large hand in it however. We didn’t play with the Leaders expansion so we don’t know how the two would interact but I guess that’s next on the list of things to try. Then Babel.

Thursday and Friday were pretty quiet, uneventful days. The sort where at work, time stops and each minute is played out over an hour. With us being firmly in the Referendum purdah period, there is something of a slow-down all around. Couple that with the local election purdah period and it adds to an extended period of freezing out all announcements in case one side cries foul. Whilst important to the running of a free and fair election process, it’s nonetheless frustrating for those in the centre. Regardless of the result, 24th June to 21st July will be a manic period.

Saturday. The plan was to go out and shop, spending the high street vouchers that have been sat in my rucksack for two months unspent. Nothing special that needed buying, just wanted to see what (if anything) there was that I needed. Maybe. Or just go to HMV and get something there. I also tried a new walk into the west end, walking from home to Chelsea Bridge and then picking up the Sloane Square/Sloane Street route north. It took a surprisingly long time to get to Chelsea Bridge, probably because I was trying to finish the latest DS9 novel (Force & Motion, bit of a slog) and the main route down does not parallel the river, rather it’s off by about 15 degrees which means a substantive course correction at some point. Anyway, the reason for that little bit of pedantry was that I was about an hour into the walk when I realised I’d left the damn vouchers at home. 

But it was all good exercise, I guess. Walked the entire length of Oxford Street, finding absolutely nothing I wanted except the usual comic book pick up from FP. Went home, called in at Waitrose for a few odds and sods, bought a scratchcard, won £100, gloated, went home.

Sunday: given my abject failure the previous day, I tried again but over to E15 this time, returning to the scene of…well, many crimes. It was another largely unsuccessful trip (some days I spend like a drunken sailor, other days I’m more tight-fisted than Scrooge McDuck) but did see the new Loading Bar which had popped up on West Ham Lane having heard about it from Brendan. As they were not allowed to remove completely the former name “Princess of Wales”, they’ve rearranged the lettering to read “Secret Weapon”. Different although I’m sure there’s one or two klutz-types who will blunder past without putting two and two together. Still, begs the question why the name of the pub cannot change? No different to Jolly Gardner’s/Zeitgeist in Vauxhall. Ho-hum.

General Gaming: This weekend saw Star Trek Timelines do another event: the Ferengi Traditionalists have hired Frank Hollinger (from a Fistful of Datas) and Chekov Clayton (whatever the TOS one was with the shootout at the OK Corral) to do some of their schemes but it’s going horribly wrong for them. At time of writing, the event isn’t quite closed but I’m hovering around the 10,000 place mark. (Post Script – published on Wednesday 8th, finished at 11,000-ish) never had a Data character before the event so those missions where the presence of an android was necessary would have been useful.

I started a new game of Fallout – just to play through to see the Brotherhood of Steel ending. Bypassing most of the secondary quests except the really quick ones. And not building up settlements unless absolutely necessary (i.e. Sanctuary Hills). I’m saying no more, except that I might do a Survival Mode play through. Looks way more stress inducing.

These five day weeks are a killer – I prefer it when I have chance to rig the calendar to avoid the whole full-week thing. That said, I think I’ve rigged it pretty well from next week onwards…

One of the rare times direct marketing has worked on me: Games Quest sent me their weekly email which completely whetted my appetite for the new expansion pack for Talisman; Talisman Cataclysm. Not played a game yet but it is effectively set after the apocalypse…magical apocalypse that is. The game replaces the main board (and is completely compatible with all the other expansion packs) but a lot of the squares have different interactions than what you’re used to and there is a new deck to interact with as well as the generic cards. And the usual new characters (the Mutant has grabbed my attention the most), endings and spells. I think the only one I’ve yet to get a hold of is the dragon expansion and then…well let’s not think about exactly how _much_ money has been spent on this hobby. I think a meth habit would be cheaper.

AdVenture Capitali$t just released its latest event in the game – Superheroes vs Supervillains. Sorta like the New Year event, there’s an element of balance in the game. If you level up heroes, it’ll impair the villains and vice-versa. Heroes will reduce the profit amount of the villains, villains reduce the profit speed of the heroes. I suspect the designers are Spiderman fans as “Rope Slinger” and “Jareth Green” (a hybrid Bowie/Green Goblin which is pretty clever once you think about it) are by far the most powerful characters in this seven day event. Half way through and I’m only about 35% of the way to completion. That said, there’s always a trigger point where you’re just his the accelerator to max profits.

And Star Trek Timelines too has had an update with Cadet Events. Kinda like missions except only your common and uncommon characters can take part (bet you wish you hadn’t deleted them all from your inventory to make room for Queen Arachnia and Captain Proton…) and these events are only open on certain days of the week. As well as the usual bumpf, it gives you a chance to earn some free Chronitons to do more normal missions. Hopefully, the game has been made a bit more stable with this patch as it crashes with alarming frequency.

More from the world of Fallout 4:

Came across the Pickman Gallery. Worth checking out. But not as disturbing as one of the Raider hangouts where there was a massive bonfire of settlers which immediately put me in the mind of something like Auschwitz or Bergen-Belsen. A truly disturbing place, second time within twelve months that a game has seriously creeped me out (the GTA V torture scene).

So rather than faffing about, I’ve made a beeline for the quests, not least as I’ve now pretty much explored the entire map (finally entered and “colonised” the south-eastern corner) and making some actual progress, joining the Railroad and getting Deacon to join me. The code to get in – not exactly a brain-buster folks. That said, I did find the magazine to allow me to build pot plants at settlements which I’m sorry to say, I’ve been doing a great deal.

Now I’m quite into the game, more bugs are popping up which can be a frustrating experience. First is when your cross-hairs disappear after talking to some NPCs at your settlements and you can no longer interact with the game environment. The only solution is to save and then immediately re-load. Second bug: interacting with companions. Sometimes when you try and talk or access their inventory, the game refuses to recognise your commands. This started to happen at the same time as the first bug. And the third bug: object placement in settlements is getting trickier the more developed they become. There’s the occasional game crash but I think that’s more “get off the Xbox and do something else”. If my Xbox was sentient, that is.

That said, still enjoying it and mentally planning my second play-through, how I’d design settlements differently, different paths through the game etc. I dunno if it’s a reflection of personal circumstance or what but I have yet to try any of the chems available in the game. Even with KOTOR where the adrenal stimulants were not addictive, I very rarely used them for a temporary boost in fights (it just never seemed worth it) and preferred to carry a bunch to sell at a vendor when I need to make cash. That said, with the Idiot Savant Perk and access to a Chemistry station, you can make drugs to your hearts content and gain experience points too. Huzzah for progress!



I’m fighting off a cold at the moment so not feeling 100%. It’s one of those colds which has no sneezing or coughing but there’s the wooziness, elevated temperature and cracked voice. It came on midway through gaming at the Griffin on Sunday afternoon around 5pm and got worse throughout the course of the evening. However, two early nights, lots of honey-infused tea, a little ibuprofen and general rest might well have knocked it on the head. Or rather immune system has done what it should have with a little help from the conscious part of the brain.

Once again, the last blog post was written but not published for a week, I am the King of Procrastination lately. Hence why there’ll be two today. And no, I wasn’t looking to capitalise on what happened in Brussels today (22nd March) by posting about Brussels in the last post, given how often I’m there…yeah.

Anyway, I’m going to stick to a predominantly gaming-themed post today. Starting with Sherlock Holmes: Crimes and Punishment as it’s a freebie from Games With Gold and the first title I’ve downloaded since Assassin’s Creed 4. It’s what I’d theme as something of an interactive story, kinda like CSI Investigations or even a modern version of Monkey Island where you take the role of the titular character and attempt to solve a series of mysteries set in late Victorian London. I’ve only played the first case so far (whilst ill, laying on the couch) but it’s enough to form an opinion or three. First of all, it’s not all that open ended, fairly linear but there hasn’t been – thus far – too much going back and forth between locations for single clues. Of course the old method of “investigate everything” remains sound advice and the hints from characters are a bit too on the nose. But perhaps the better feature is that the cases can have multiple possible endings, some of which are more “true” than the others.

Graphics – nowt special. 3D environments that don’t move much apart from the characters. No, there’s more to the sound as it’s crucial to hear the voice acting. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s stereotypical Sherlock fare, as Jeremy Butler were in the role with all the other supporting characters playing their classic roles. That’s no bad thing, easy brand recognition but I personally wouldn’t have minded if they took liberties with a few of the characters. You can dress Holmes up, give him disguises to wear to make him look a little different. Also with the sound – it’s bloody loud. I normally have my TV at 12 when I play video games, had to turn it right down to 6 for this one.

Other bits – there’s the “Sherlock Scan” where you can survey a crime scene and detect other clues which you wouldn’t be able to interact with otherwise. It’s not the greatest bit as all the problem solving is done for you. Perhaps if you were able to form your own conclusions… And then there are the minigames – man are some of them frustrating. In the first case alone, the pig carcass, the arm wrestling and the lock picking can make you want to lob the controller at the wall. Though admittedly, I solved the lock picking by random chance so wasn’t too irked by that.

All in all – I might play the second case and go through the game, I might not. Kinda…indifferent to the game. I had hoped for a more engrossing experience rather than the product we have which it a bit too…leading. Fortunately, it’s only 12GB so doesn’t take that much HD space. And it’s something different to my other game. Plus, it’s free. Overall, it’s worth a look but don’t get your hopes up. The fact that it’s free from Games with Gold is a major point in its favour.

Also downloaded, Ticket to Ride Europe (for my Xbox 360 version of the game), chiefly so I could practice but also as I’ve played well over fifty games on the US map. There isn’t much I can say, it’s a faithful reproduction of the board game, some new background music to fit the map, otherwise no other bells and whistles. I’m happy with my purchase.

Still slowly grinding my way through Star Trek Timelines. On Mission 5 now but need to seriously upgrade my characters before I can even tackle the first level (Picard is my best character but even he is about 50 points short in the diplomacy stat at level 39). If there were more space battles, I’d kick ass because I’ve got some seriously decent hardware in my arsenal. Ferengi Marauder, Romulan Warbird, Kirk’s Enterprise (which is more powerful than the Galaxy Class starship, randomly), 3* upgraded Constitution class starship, Maquis Raider…

GTA Online update – I made my $2.8 million for the Valkyrie Helicopter. Then I looked it up just to check and so many people trash it, I decided to go with the Savage helicopter instead. Great fun. Still have over a million left though I’m not sure what to buy with it. I’ve a Banshee in the garage that needs pimping at Benny’s as well as a hankering for a Buzzard. At level 173. 

Ovver Bits: Fiber Optic Broadband is now connected at home. I have to say, I’m not noticing a massive difference in speed but both Dr Do(o)m and I can stream TV and play online games without and SNAFU which I think is the biggest win. And there is no random dropping of the signal (a perennial source of vexation on GTA). There’s only one downside to the Fiber Optic stuff, I’m in an eighteen month contract (there was no option for anything less) and it’s likely we’ll only be in the flat another eleven months. There’s no guarantee of anything longer post February 2017. But let’s worry about that next year. I know, home moves but still, it’s a loose end and I loathe loose ends. It gives the writers plenty of material for stories.

This week’s iBooks purchase – Kiss Kiss by Roald Dahl. Many of you will know that this was the source of the stories for the first season of Tales of the Unexpected. Rather than continuing the buy-back of my book collection, I wanted something different to read and the short story format is great as I can read one at lunch in its entirety whilst chowing down on whatever salad offerings are in the staff restaurant. What strikes me most about the book is the…socially cultural values of the book and how different they are from today. You might call them sexist, I call them dated. That said, it’s sometimes quite difficult to actually read the stories without empathising too much for the put-upon characters because in typical Dahl fashion, there’s a fair amount of abuse going on in each of the books. I’ve watched most of the first season of Tales so I can’t help but picture the characters as they were on the small screen.