Solar 2, Voyage in the Cosmos



It seems Neil deGrasse Tyson was a GameDev before hosting Cosmos because this is the kind of game I imagine him sitting in his underwear, playing between shoots in his dressing room.  Solar 2 was so much fun I bought it on Steam and later on my Xbox 360. Yea, still have that thing.  But Solar 2 is a brand new take on a video games altogether as you play a well-organized collection of sometimes intelligent matter rather than a brainless lump of meat swinging a sword.

Saying that you play a solar system in this title would be like saying you play the strongest warrior in all the land in Skyrim; you eventually get there but there is quite a bit you have to do on the way.  When you start the game, a quote from Carl Sagan appears “if you want to make an apple pie from scratch, you’d have to restart the universe” followed by what is supposed to be the big bang.  When the screen fades in, you control a cold lump of dead rock floating in space.  You are an asteroid.  Your goal?  Fly through space like potato with a deathwish and crash into everything else.  Eventually you get enough mass and become a planet.  And your planet can cultivate life!  My little inhabitants built a massive world barrier to protect me and followed me around, blasting asteroids.  That was cute at first, but I found myself outpacing them so I could absorb more asteroids and become a star.  From there I started drawing planets into my orbit and cultivating a whole system of life!  Fuck yea!

And then some other asshole system with a fucking BINARY GODDAMN STAR bumbles along and is like, “O, were you using this?” and smashes my planets to smithereens.  As a system, you take up a good bit of space and larger systems might not be visible onscreen until its too late.  I was naming those planets, too!  Coming up with stories about its people and civilizations etc.  And then some asshole bumbles along and just blow them up by accident!  And to add insult to injury that system’s life, colored red at this point, started attacking the life on my only remaining planet.  I got a good distance, but the fuckers decimated the planet, blowing it up altogether.  I was lucky to escape with most of my protons intact.

O, hi. Nice to meet you. Fuck yourself and die!

O, hi. Nice to meet you. Fuck yourself and die!

So I said fuck it, I will become the biggest fucker out there.  I spent hours building a massive binary star system with nearly twenty planets and all kinds of other life etc.  I went and found what looked similar to the earlier system ( I doubt it was, space is fucking huge ) and ripped him apart.  And afterward I avenged my fallen inhabitants by chasing down the retreating solo star ( I raped it so hard its other star blew up ) and turned it into space dust.  I was so pleased with this that I fist pumped… and accidentally hit the ctrl key, absorbing all my celestial bodies and going supernova.  I was a black hole.  Fuck. Yes.  The most powerful and terrifying force in the galaxy, mother fucker!  On Cosmos they said that my mass is so great that my gravity warps time.  Bad. Ass.

Don’t want to be a goober and absorb the entire galaxy? Fine.  There’s missions.  In the tutorial, some face that looks like the above version of a god Giorgio Tsoukalos might worship pops up to guide you.  He tells you how to move, absorb matter, grow and that you can do his missions.  He’ll reward you at the end.  So you go do missions, like destroying rogue ships, luring them into enemies or playing “don’t die when I spawn missles on either side of you”.  Fucker.  And these are just the asteroid missions.  There are also missions to play as a planet and star.  I can only assume that there are missions for each major form as well, as I have not gotten to the end of this game.  But with how hard and long it is, I might as well run to the end of the fucking universe.

While playing the music is an ambient flow of particles through the void that soothes and hypnotizes you.  Then once you become a star with planets and such, you star to feel more and more drawn in as you watch them swing around in their orbits like a divine clockwork.  The visuals are nice, but nothing too spectacular.  Background is space punctuated by stars and nebulas.  Overall it is cool and fun, but once the charm of being a system wears off, the game can get a little boring.  And then you might fall asleep.

So what pisses me off about this game? God.  That guys is a fucking prick in this game! I mean who wants to play “don’t die when I spawn missiles on either side of you” with a fucking asteroid?  Seriously?!  And he is smiling widely as he says it.  At least that is what it looks like.  He could be shitting. Smug fucker.


Rust, Naked and Scared Shitless



Garry Newman, the same person at fault for Garry’s mod, is the brains behind Rust, another in the line of games that wish they were Minecraft.  But where in Minecraft there is some sense of decency and still an air of fun for fun’s sake, Rust plunges you naked and screaming into a world that suffers from griefer syndrome.  Before I go off on the playerbase, the game itself is actually quite fun, for a pre-release.

First, you start naked, and who doesn’t like to be naked.  At least it is fun until the sun goes down, then you realize what this game is all about.  If a game about digging in the ground and building is called Minecraft, a more appropriate name for Rust might be Mancraft.  Aside from a free-flailing dangle-down, your inventory includes a rock, a torch and some bandages.  Of course, the bandages don’t heal you, just stop bleeding.  So when you are randomly spawned and an asshole with a fucking pistol chases after you shooting for kicks, your best defense is to fucking run for cover.  I recommend loosing him among rocks, but he’ll still get you with a shot or two.  The bandages help there.   So once it gets dark, you’ll say “Good thing Garry gave me this torch!” but that shit is like herpes, keep it to yourself or someone will cut your dick off.  Take out that torch, O, naked wonder of human deduction, in the middle of nowhere in pitch darkness and what do you become?  A blazing goddamn beacon of newb-dom.  If you have the presence of mind to try gathering resources upon being thrust into a new world, as nearly no one fucking does, you might have some resources, and that is all the reason most people have to cut you open.  For the rocks you were keeping in your bunghole.

So, it should come as no surprise that God’s own multi-tool, a fucking rock, is the most useful thing you begin the game with.  By all means, swinging this rock becomes a sort of divine experimentation when you begin as you try to gain resources.  Look in your crafting section and you might see things you can make and things you need to make them.  Rocks and wood are among the most necessary base materials.  Now, for wood you just hit the rock on trees.  If you find a wood pile, even better.  But when I was looking for rocks, I felt like Christopher fucking Columbus exploring the Atlantic ocean: lost as a cumshot in a snowstorm.  There are TONS of fucking rocks around, especially near the mountains, so you might try harvesting them.  Those are, however, scenery and you are running out of time.  So it is a rock-bashing experiment until you realize which rocks you need.

Do you really need to ask me how it's hanging?

Do you really need to ask me how it’s hanging?

So, if by some fluke of merciless fate you spawn during the day time and you were blessed with ample time to figure all this out and get the necessary resources, you might just be able to survive.  Did you go looking for food too? O, yea, forgot to mention that.  You have a hunger bar that depletes over time, and the more active you are, the faster it goes down.  So that shit goes down but fast when you start just about fucking anywhere naked.  Basically, unless you lay your ass down and prepare for death, your health bar depletes faster than you realize.  Now aside from the locations where prepared food can be found (and those are usually camped by tuna-eating lunatics with hatchets hoping for the last chocolate bar on Earth) you have to take that rock, which is a more reliable inanimate best friend at this point than the companion cube, and chase down chickens, pigs or deer.  Should you be the asshole undaunted by the challenge of running around in the open naked whacking deer with a rock, you find the reward is… chicken.  Wait, what?  Yes, everything you kill provides, for the moment, little, raw chicken cutlets.  Eat up! And promptly spew your guts out, because somebody just had to make it realistic and give you salmonella poisoning!  I swear to god, people – including me – are paying money for this.  So, once you have your materials and chicken, you can build a little campfire and get cooking.  It’s a good thing they didn’t include stomach grumbling noises for all the players on the island or it would sound like you were constantly being stalked by ninja whales.

By this time, it is likely the middle of the night and you have died at least three times.  Aside from hunger and salmonella, which is shown above by the green health bar, you will get cold.  At the time being, campfires are the only thing that can warm you up with torches and furnaces expected to do this as well in later updates.  At night is when the scary things come out.  During the day you have bears and wolves to contend with.  Originally it was zombies, but the devs thought this enemy was just too played out.  So they went the realistic route and make it so that you have to outrun bears and wolves that will maul you to death, slobbering over the idea of gnawing on your femurs.  The scary things I am referring to are the other players.  And these assholes are relentless.  I have played a number of servers that advertise their friendliness to noobs and ‘outlaw’ the killing of nakeds.  This just amounts to bandits not killing you on sight every time.  Sometimes they will see you, follow you a bit and then kill you.  And I have run into groups of players that rove and hunt noobs and still others that just kill whoever they feel like at that moment.  It’s like a page out of The Lord of Flies without the little boys.  That would end in rape, given the mentality you’ll regularly see.

But that really is the fun of the game.  That and building houses out of foundation and wall segments.  You can customize your own little mansion on a mountain, craft a rifle and start taking potshots at people wandering by.  You’ll probably be killed by someone doing just that during your first days.  Survival against all odds.  Every once in a while, as if the game wasn’t brutal enough, an airplane flies by and performs an airdrop.  This makes me laugh.  It’s as if civilization knows were here and, not only do they not care, but they are throwing finite amounts of supplies down at us and watching the battles ensue.  Did I mention areas are randomly irradiated? Yep, usually around where there is pre-packaged food.

just wait 'till I build an RPG launcher, you smug sons-of-bitches.

just wait ’till I build an RPG launcher, you smug sons-of-bitches.

So what pisses me off the most in this game?  Aside from everything else in this game that makes no fucking sense ever again, one thing that stands out are the visuals.  They developers put a lot of time and effort into making the game pretty.  The trees are variegated enough that you feel like you are in a  forest.  The grasses look like fields of gently-waving grass.  I mean, everything looks very very nice, so you get that ‘beauty of nature’ fix before dying a brutal death at the hands of almost anything within sight-range.  It’s like somewhere above the trees you can hear a melody soft and sweet that is clipped short by the gunshot travelling through your skull.  One of the most frustrating things about the game is that it is multi-player only.  You have to go find a server and deal with it.  There is no ‘remember your first game of Rust’ discussions on the Rust forums.  That shit reads like  a PTSD support group.  The benefit, however, is that all servers are using the same map.  No procedurally generated randomness to contend with here, so if you find a great place to build your house, you can fight over the same beachfront property with other people on another server.  Ain’t life grand?

Can you spot the socio-pathic, hatchet-weilding psycho?

Can you spot the sociopathic, hatchet-weilding psycho?

All-in-all, it’s definitely worth playing, especially for the $20 asking price on Steam.  It’s a bit of a niched game that caters to the “minecraft isn’t realistic enough about survival” crowd.  Weird that such a deranged genre would arise from such a harmless source material.  Well, as harmless as any source-material where zombies chew on your bones at night.