Hunters HD for iPad is amazing

There are three types of computer gamers. Those that never played X-COM, those that loved X-COM, and those that are wrong.

For those that aren't familiar with the series, X-COM was a turn-based, squad-level, strategy game published in the mid nineties. Wikipedia sums up the premise nicely:

The premise for the original series is that hostile extraterrestrials have begun invading the planet Earth. A clandestine, international military organization, the Extraterrestrial Combat Unit (variably abbreviated X-COM or X-Com through the series) is set up in 1999 to counter the UFOs, capture and research the alien technology, unveil the mystery behind the attacks, and ultimately stop the threat.

Simply put, it's considered by many to be one of the best games of all time and people have been trying to resurrect it for years or at least create a viable spiritual successor.

Hunters HD from Rodeo Games does an astounding job of capturing the feel of the combat from X-COM's glory days. The premise is different, but it still leads to the same sci-fi carnage. Instead of bug-hunters tracking aliens, you lead a team of mercenaries on corporate sponsored missions to secure or destroy various assets.

You can equip your team how you see fit. Choose from types of armor, weapons and different gear like medkits and sensors. Heavier armor will slow your men down, but offer more protection. Then select a mission type from the bridge, pick which of your troops to send in, and go.

Excellent UI.Playing this sort of strategy game on the iPad is a fantastic experience. Tap to select a squad member, tap to target, tap again to fire. Zoom and rotate the map with standard touch gestures. It's slick as hell.

The combat can be fairly challenging at times since one tactically unsound move can easily cost you a man or two. Plan ahead, set up cover-fire and don't rambo. It's tough to get through a mission unscathed, but fortunately any deaths are temporary.

Equiping your squad.As your mercs level up, they will learn new abilities and use better gear. Also, they have cool codenames like "Judge" and "Magpie". You can change those any time, as well as your mercenary unit's name and the color they wear.

I have very few complaints:

  • There's an occasional bug that causes the sound effects for weapons to drop out. They already know about it and are planning a fix.
  • I wish there was more documentation about what stats do and what all the numbers mean.
  • It's annoying when your enemy is wearing the same color armor.
  • That's about it. This game is very well polished.

I have several feature requests, though:

  • Grenades! (Others have asked for this and apparently it's coming.)
  • A minigun. (This game just screams for an "Ol' Painless" equivelant.)
  • Some non-human enemies. (So far, all I've fought are other mercenaries and they all basically look the same. Maybe robots or aliens...)

All in all, Hunters HD is probably the best game I've played on the iPad so far.


State of the blog

So, there hasn't been much traffic around here lately. All short-form traffic has been directed to Twitter or Tumblr, and I've been reserving for longer-form posts. Unfortunately, longer posts take more time and effort. Sometimes it's easier to condense to 140 characters and just fire something into the twitter stream.

The time and effort I would put into a longer post has been directed at other writing efforts recently. Those come and go, get shelved and dusted off, and generally never get finished. When I'm in the mood to work on one of those ideas, though, I don't think about much else when it comes to putting pen to page... or electrons to internets as it were.

I'm not abandoning the blog, though. I've decided to focus on it a bit more, in fact. I hope to have more posts, with some varied content, up here soon. In an effort to keep flexing writing muscles, I'm going to start posting reviews. The big problem with reviews, and why I haven't posted many of them in the past, is that I general consume media later than most. I play video games when they're old and discounted, watch movies on Netflix after everyone else has forgotten the plot and I'm lucky if I can get to books within a decade of publishing. I've decided I don't care if they are timely, though. I'm not getting paid for this, don't really need the traffic and I've got no deadlines. I just need to write more.

So I shall.


Petition: Tell retail pharmacies to come clean about homeopathic products

I can't even begin to describe how much I hate drugstores that peddle snake oil like homeopathic "remedies", magnetic bracelets and other woo-bullshit like that. I don't know how much good online petitions do, but I hate homeopaths and snake oil salesmen enough to sign it.

Sign it. Unless you believe in homeopathy. In which case, please read this, then sign it.