Wednesday, March 19, 2014

HB's Review of the XCOM game series

Hey everybody Charles here again, this time to give a little review of a game series I've been getting into lately on the PS3.
For those that don't know what it is, the XCOM series of games are a turn-based, squad-based tactical RPG that is about an alien invasion of Earth and you play the role of a commander in the fight for survival.
The games in the series are XCOM: Enemy Unknown, XCOM: Enemy Within, and The Bureau: XCOM Declassified.
Chronologically, the games begin with The Bureau which takes place in the 1960's while the next is Enemy Unknown taking place during modern times, and Enemy Within being a stand alone expansion of Enemy Unknown, which means that the people in these games have basically been fighting the invasion for more than 50 years!
Unfortunately, the games do not follow each other in this manner, with each game consisting of a separate and unrelated invasion, so nothing that is accomplished in The Bureau effects the other games, not does anything from the other two effect each other or The Bureau. Since each one will be kind of long I will break them into a series of posts, one for each game I discuss.

I will start with XCOM: Enemy Unknown, since that was the first for the three that I played. You start out as the leader of a squad investigating the disappearance of a recon team that was in turn investigating some kind of attack in Germany.  As you move your squad through the city towards the recon teams last known location, you see signs of battle, as well as some very gruesomely mutilated civilians, and upon reaching the warehouse where the signal was lost, you find the last living member of the recon team and he is being MIND CONTROLLED BY ALIENS, ARGHERJEH;shgadf!!!
Um, OK it's not really that dramatic but you get the point.
After the tutorial mission that was just completed you select where you want you main base of operations to be, your choices are North America, Europe, and Asia and each one comes with its own bonus.
Now that you've selected your base, you are now in charge of the global resistance, answering only to the mysterious Council that occasionally provides you with additional funding and engineers and scientists. In addition to your main base, you are responsible for several small satellite bases that you need to arm with fighter jets, and later your own reverse-engineered UFO's to shoot down enemy aircraft, because if you don't they will spread panic and shoot down your communication satellites.
There is some resource management required in your mission to save humanity which are; money (used to buy weapons, aircraft, and research new tech), weapon and component parts (used to research and build new tech), power (which is used to provide electricity to your buildings), there are a limited number of building slots available (which you use to build laboratories, workshops, satellite control centers, power plants, and some others), and lastly global panic ( the Council and XCOM are attempting to limit how much the general populous knows about the invasion, which you control by launching communications satellites and successfully completing missions, if a regions' panic level gets too high, that region will lose faith in XCOM and remove themselves from the council, which will result in lower funding, longer research and build times due to fewer scientists/engineers.)

You can also recruit additional soldiers which upon achieving their first level up will randomly choose one of four classes each with it's own abilities; Heavy Weapons (primary special: Rocket Launcher), Sniper (Primary Special: Headshot), Medic (Primary Special: Smoke screen) and Assault (Primary Special: Extra move.) Each class unlocks additional skills as they level up which if used properly can make a pretty unstoppable squad, especially the Medic that can earn a skill that allows for bringing additional medpaks. It's important that I mention here how vital medics and medpaks are to the game. They become the most important teammates and piece of gear, especially in later levels because while wounded troops only have to sit out of combat for a few days, if anyone dies in the field, they are gone for ever which is really frustrating when you lose a high level squaddie and don't have a proper replacement trained. 
Now I detail the gear you can use: all your troops start out with standard military equipment, Kevlar armor, basic armaments that differs based on unit type, Heavy weapons uses light machine guns, assault uses assault rifles or shot guns, sniper uses sniper rifles, and medics use assault rifles, and each one can carry a side arm and two additional pieces of gear such as grenades or medpaks. As you progress through the game, you get the chance to research higher tech equipment, such as laser or plasma guns, plasma grenades, tank drones that take the place of living team members, and more advanced armor which in addition to providing some damage reduction also add a bonus to max health, some of which has cloaking technology that makes your troops temporarily invisible or jet packs that grant momentary flight. Additionally, you get to upgrade you fighter craft with more advanced weapons systems, targeting systems, and evasion systems, up to turning the enemy UFO tech against them as I mentioned earlier.The last addition to your arsenal that you can unlock are psionic powers that your scientists are a latent ability in many humans, and by using some alien tech those abilities can be unlocked. A couple abilities that you can unlock are telekinesis and mind control, so you can turn enemies into allies for a short duration.

Well I think that is all for now, and it gives you a good idea of what you'll experience if you decide to play this game for yourself. I could go on a little more, but since this is only a review and not a walk through this is about all I can say without providing any spoilers, even just little ones. I will be writing another on The Bureau here shortly since it is the only game of the remaining two that is really different from this one.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Food Glorious FOOD!

The ahhh-mazing French Toast
So the past couple days I have been all about food.

Today my Dad made one of my favorite dishes FRENCH TOAST.
Oh my gawd YUM.
He makes the BEST french toast. Its amazing. Its delicious, moist and glorious (((swoons)))

With the french toast I love not just the food but also the memories attached to those meals from when I was little.
Those meals were always fun and happy where as much of my childhood memories are dark and sad.
My Dad would make french toast whenever. Breakfast, Brunch or Dinner he'd make it.
When I was younger meal time had a tendency to be quiet, strained or my parents would be out right fighting through out the meal.
But when Dad made french toast things were nice and fun. No bickering, arguing or snide remarks. Plus he was always sober when he made french toast.
 Now I love it when he makes french toast because we have fun laughing in the kitchen as he cooks and I steal pieces of bacon while Kai and HB play in the living room.
Even after the meal is over we sit in the kitchen and talk.

Then e
arlier this past week I tried out a new crock pot recipe that was amazing and made enough to feed the 3 of us plus both of my parents!
This recipe was so simple and easy to follow it has made me think I can cook anything lol
I found this awesome recipe on Pinterest. Its from The Crock Pot Ladies.

Potato and Kielbasa Chowder
Ingredients~1 Medium Onion (chopped)
~1 clove of Garlic (minced)
~1 (32 oz) Carton of Chicken Broth
~6-8 medium Potatoes (chopped)
~2 cups Frozen Corn
~1 (16 oz) Fully cooked Kielbasa. (I used Hillshire Farms brand)
~1 Bay Leaf (Note: If you do not have any Bay Leaves you can use an additional 1/4 tsp of Thyme to replace it)
~1/2 tsp of Thyme
~1/2 tsp Fresh Ground Black Pepper
~8 oz shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese (1 block of cheese)
~1 cup (8 oz) Heavy Whipping Cream

Instructions~In a 6 Quart Crock Pot combine all ingredients EXCEPT the Cheese and Cream
~Stir Well to combine
~Cover and cook on Low for 8-10 hours or 5-6 on High. (Until Potatoes are Tender. Remove Bay Leaf if used)
~Add Shredded Cheese and Cream. Stir well to combine and melt Cheese.

Made 8-9 servings.