Flash of Steel header image 2

December 2010 PCGamer

October 19th, 2010 by Troy Goodfellow · 8 Comments · PCGamer

I have three pieces in this month’s issue. My column tackles the issue of story based campaigns in RTSes (and why Starcraft 2’s is still terrible), I preview the upcoming scifi 4x game Sword of the Stars 2 and I review Victoria 2.

There are also reviews from other people of Elemental and RUSE.

I’ll publish more from my interview with SotS2 design lead Martin Cirulis here on the blog later.

Regarding Victoria 2, I haven’t played much since the patch. Early reports from acquaintances and friends say that it has fixed a lot of the weirdness with craftsmen being hard to satisfy and immigrants flooding to tiny islands.

In our podcast interview with Chris King, it became clear that this is a game that is very hard to balance. Victoria 2 almost has too many systems, each of which has a distinct purpose but all of which are linked by the flow of money.

There have been some complaints in the Paradox community that it took so long for this patch to be released, but considering how complicated this game is, I’m not surprised. A patch can easily introduce new problems. There is probably some domino theory of Paradox patching that has fixing one thing breaking two more and fixing those breaking three others.

Still this patch has been a long time coming. I hope to give it a real workout once I get some time free. Fill the comment box with your insights and reflections.


8 Comments so far ↓

  • Chris

    I’ve been enjoying reading Flash of Steel these last several weeks, largely because you play a lot of games I hear about but don’t have the time to pick up myself. But the Starcraft hate is getting ridiculous.

    Just let it go, man.

  • Troy

    Whoa there. Read my review. I like Starcraft 2. It’s a great MP and skirmish game, but not very original. But the campaign, though full of good set pieces, is an example of how little strategy there is RTS campaigns.

    In the column I also call out DoW 2, AoE and Warcraft – all good games.

  • Chris

    Yeah, these teasers are making me wonder if I should subscribe to PC Gamer for the first time in, um, hang on a sec. Fifteen years.

    So, good work with the marketing.

    I actually think that the SC2 campaign sort of recognizes that too many RTS campaign missions are just the same thing over and over again, insofar as it emphasizes specific and different winning strategies on each map. IMO, it makes a SC2 campaign mission more like a puzzle game than a game of Starcraft. Dunno how intentional that is.

    Again, I can’t read the article, but if your point here is that the SC2 story is lame, that is ground that has been gone over a lot, and I also think it’s a little unfair insofar as a) the game is so zoomed in, it covers about 2-3 missions worth of SC1 story and b) we haven’t yet really heard from the more interesting (i.e. not Jim Raynor) characters from the SC1 universe.

    Does A0E really have a plot? I haven’t played since II, but I only recall it as recreating famous battles or being skirmish.

    For Warcraft, any game in particular? I was a huge fan of I and II entirely because I was a kid and went for good guys vs. bad guys, but thought III’s gameplay was too weak to bother with the campaign. I do think WoW has done a good job of creating a lore-rich universe, and that draws on the RTSes to some extent.

    And yeah, I’m pretty much trying to get you to explain the entire argument without having to get the magazine. I understand if you can’t answer.

    Finally, I’ll bite and defend myself. This post singles out SC and that’s a common theme on this blog. Maybe you feel some sort of responsibility to remind us that big doesn’t necessarily equal better? Sorry, I shouldn’t speculate. But I think it’s a little unfair to single out SC on the blog and then criticize me for responding to that by pointing to the full article, which is published elsewhere.

    Anyway, this is a long comment. I understand if you can’t respond to everything, and I do appreciate the time you spend responding when you can.

  • frags

    Chris, Starcraft 2 is the most recent and biggest RTS game to be released recently. You’d have expect people to bring it up in any discussion about RTS’s.

  • frags

    Also, I’m not so certain about SOTS 2. Never was a fan of the first and the second doesn’t seem to be bringing any changes that’ll make me be interested in it.

  • Jorune

    I like SC 2’s campaign. I would ask if you think that is a poor campaign, and so too is WC3, what RTS, in your opinion, has a GOOD campaign. I neevr played the C&C games until 3, and LOVED the campaign in that, especially how they introduced the 3rd playable race, the aliens.


  • Hargert

    I just found your blog due to it being posts over at the SOTS site and have enjoyed reading some of your past entries. Looking forward to seeing the SOTS 2 preview bits here and will look for the mag to see the full thing.

  • LGH

    Chris, I hardly get the impression that starcraft is being singled out here. In fact, being such a huge release, I am glad it is not overshadowing other stuff here. I think you are too sensitive to a game being criticized, which is normal thing for a gaming blog.