So You Like Shock Films?

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Alex Krasny reviews Human Centipede Two youtube video

Human Centipede 2: Incentipede

Alex Krasny reviews Human Centipede Two youtube videoI knew it was going to be bad, but it was worse than I could have imagined. This movie isn’t “worth a look” and it isn’t “bad in a good way.” It is so awful that I don’t even want to talk about it because I feel like people will want to watch it just to see how something could be so bad. The movie is awful on every level:

  • Horrible acting, (of how little there is)
  • Plot? What plot? Just an excuse for shocking imagery
  • Terrible pacing
  • Non-seniscal situations

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OSX Lion First Impressions: It Sucks

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Sad to say Apple really shit the bed on this system. It is a usability nightmare. All the new “features” they added fucking suck.

  • Launch pad is fucking useless
  • Fullscreen apps? Joke
  • Inverted scrolling!? Why the fuck did that need a change?
  • A bunch of my old applications no longer work
  • Installation was anything but smooth

I guess Apple loved the iPad so much they decided to just shove that functionality down everyone’s throat. There is only one problem. Not everyone has a fucking iPad inside thier ass (yet). So not everybody is happy to accept these stupid changes. I have spent 20 years on my computer, now they decide to just change how it work? Fuck you!

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Panera’s New Lobster Sandwich

What are you willing to buy from Panera Bread for $16.99? There are three answers: two full entrees, 18 bagels, or nothing. Notice what isn’t on that list? A $16.99 lobster salad sandwich.

I was in Panera a while ago and noticed a poster with a sandwich with the intimidating $17 price tag. Immediately I assumed it was some kind of large family style sandwich or something, but then upon further inspection I realized it wasn’t. I jumped back from the menu so hard I nearly pulled a mussel.

Are they serious? Everything on the menu (outside of 18 bagels) is $8.99. How can a reasonable person be expected to pay $18.45 (tax included) on a single sandwich? Not only would that take an exceptional level of trust on the consumer’s side, but also, a lunch budget more than twice the average ticket price. I am getting salty just thinking about it.

“Why is it so much?!” I asked

The young lady insulted my intelligence by saying, in a passive aggressive tone “Lobster is expensive.” leading me to believe she has been asked this question before, good. I am happy as a clam to hear that others, like me, are also shellshocked by the price. Of course I know lobster is expensive, it’s an “exotic” ingredient you can only get from the east coast. I can understand it costing more. I have watched the Deadliest Catch (and that’s JUST crab.) “Costing more” however, by Panera standards, should mean $10.99, at $17 I expect truffle oil infused mayo and gold flakes as garnish. I dug a little harder, trying to figure out exactly why it is SO MUCH other than just (mis)-targeting rich people. She touted the freshness of the lobster involved.

A Matter of Freshness?

Fresh huh? Just how fresh exactly? Do you have a lobster aquarium installed in the back of this store, and every Panera store, just for this summer special? Are there 30 fresh Maine lobsters chilling in there just waiting for me to order them? Is there a trained chef in the back ready to (humanely) execute, shell, clean and prepare the lobster for me? I highly doubt it. More than likely they just order frozen lobster meat just like the rest of us. You know Red Lobster has an actual lobster aquarium and can legitimately get away with calling it “fresh” and even they charge only $13.99 for a lobster entree.

It’s like going to McDonalds and seeing a new Kobe Beef Burger for $16.99. I don’t know anyone who has those kinds of balls. I can go to a classy sushi place and get an entree for less than 17$ and that has been prepared by a sushi chef who is probably getting paid 80k, and it is made with more exotic ingredients than lobster. I can go to the liquor store and buy a bottle of Grey Goose and drink-to-forget this absurd summer special.

Two Separate Problems

A. To claim that lobster is “expensive,” and that is why they are charging so much, is a total crock of shit. If they aren’t flat out lying about the lobster being fresh, then maybe I can understand, but I highly doubt that claim as well. This is a common marketing gimmick. You charge more for “Gyro Meat” and “Guacamole” even though they hardly cost more than chicken and cheddar cheese. The issue is it’s 100% more expensive, not a little bit more expensive.< B. Totally out of character for the store. Panera deals in pre-made soups and cold cuts. Now I am going to trust them in preparing a lobster? They have never even dealt with seafood before other than clam-chowder (too salty). They expect me to take a total risk on a dish they have no experience preparing and pay them more than double the average ticket price for it? Get out of town!

Update as of 06-05-2011

I interviewed a Panera employee who confirmed many of my suspicions. He confirmed that they do not have real lobster, it comes in frozen just like the rest of the meat. The second confirmation is there is NOT a pound of lobster meat in the sandwich. Rather, 8oz in the full size, and 4oz in the half size (a pound is 16oz). Just as I thought. The “freshness” is a lie, and any argument about a pound of lobster is also untrue. Although Panera never made a claim that there is a pound of meat, people just assumed that for some reason.

Mortal Kombat 9 Review

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Mortal Kombat 9 kame out recently. Obviously I got it right away bekause I have always been such a big MK fan. I must say I am impressed with what they did with the game. Everything about it feels like Mortal Kombat! Which although seems like an obvious thing to say, if you have followed the series you know that isn’t always the case. Since MK3, Mortal Kombat has suffered some growing pains. They tried going 3D, adding complex fighting style systems and weapons systems and probably more stuff I never even played. This game is a welcome change. Reading hype about this game, the general feel was, they are going back to the roots. No gimmicks with 3D, no “fighting styles” no weapons kombat just back to the classic 2D zany violence. It has been a success.

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Master of Orion 2: God’s Video Game

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I have been an avid fan of turn based empire-building games since I was a child. I’ve played many of them, and usually for days on end, I probably have thousands of hours logged in Civilization II. Based on my experience I can confidently say that Master of Orion II is the best of the bunch even looking back now from 2018.

It just got so much right! So many elements of this game were leaps ahead of the genre. Everything is fun in Master of Orion II; exploration, empire building, science, war, even espionage. Many games that bring innovation to the genre, but many times that innovation falls flat on it’s face (Have you seen Master of Orion 3?) Master of Orion 2 challenges you on every level, and presents you interesting choices in all elements of gameplay.

Species Customization

The first noticeable difference between MOO2 and the other 4X games, and probably the most entertaining, is species creation. In MOO2 you get to create your alien race using an impressive customization screen reminiscent of the Fallout 1 and 2 character generator. Of course there are plenty of stock aliens to choose from, but you better believe it’s way more fun to make your own!

You can create a race of fragile, slow-to-reproduce, subterranean ultra smart science super nerds. Or you can make a race of telepaths that have a fetish for gold coins who use their telepathy to make favorable trade agreements. You can even make a race that doesn’t need to eat organic food but can get by eating minerals allowing them the ability to live on any planet and never worry about farming.

You could even draw on other popular aliens of science fiction and see how they would perform. How would you create StarCraft’s Zerg or Protoss in this sandbox? How about StarTrek’s Klingons, Romulans or Borg?

I have played hundreds of games and I still have builds I am interested in trying. The replay value is unparalleled.

Exploration and Colonization

In MOO2 expansion has some subtleties that make it fun and interesting. This game takes place in space, and instead of settling on land, you settle on entire planets that orbit stars. Early in the game your ships have primitive engines and can not venture very far from your home system.

Generally the map is generated to put some distance between you and your neighbors, at least until you settle a little further away. This means you will not need to fight for expansion space with any other races early in the game. There is usually plenty of room in your own little area to build up a solid empire before you need to arm up and battle.

The juiciest randomly-generated systems often come with a space monster protecting them. You need to develop the firepower to destroy the space monster before colonizing that system. This is awesome for three reasons:

  • It mitigates luck based advantages of starting next to a high quality system because even if you do, it will take some time to destroy the space monster.
  • Interesting game states present themselves in which a player must make the choice of researching weapon systems and building ships to destroy the monster as fast as possible as opposed to taking a more balanced research path and concentrating on infrastructure.
  • Race situations can take place, where two competing civilizations try to destroy the space monster and colonize the system before the other.

There is a good variety in expanding in this game as opposed to Civilization. In Civilization you always need to fight for land because if you fall behind in number of cities then you are at a disadvantage. That is true in Master of Orion 2 as well, but you can simply colonize fewer but higher quality planets for equal footing.

Even if that doesn’t work you can make poor planets better by getting terraforming technology, hydroponic farming or biospheres.

Diplomacy

Diplomacy is always a breaking point in these 4X empire building games. In my opinion this is always the low point of Civilization games since Civ2. Either there aren’t enough diplomatic options or the AI acts so inexplicably the diplomacy screen isn’t even worth visiting. Well for a game that was released in the same year as Civilization 2, it had diplomacy that was more interesting that it has ever been.

The typical options are all there: trade technology (more on this in the science section), offer gifts to improve relations, demand technology/money/system, make alliances and if you really want to, you can surrender.

This all seems pretty normal, and for the most part it is. But here is what this game offers that is so brilliant and head of its time. When you sign a trade treaty or a science treaty you don’t just gain an immediate trade. Instead both of your civilizations begin PAYING money, and then eventually over several turns your deficit turns into a bonus and this bonus gets bigger over time. Both of your civilizations begin gaining bonus research points and income every turn and this number continues to grow as your civilizations prosper.

Civilization 5 recently (and I am talking 2010) implemented a science treaty system similar to this, and I am happy they finally realized what a great idea it is. This gives you incentive to actually stay at peace, and keep the peace with everyone. Also when you have a very strong and beneficial agreement going, it puts both parties in an interesting position to make demands. In this case a declaration of war isn’t just an inconvenience (and sometimes in the case of being very far apart, a total non-issue) to an actual detriment because losing the 200 research points and 150 income every turn is a big deal.

I can’t stress enough how innovative and excellent this move is. Not being at war isn’t the only incentive for peace anymore. You actually WANT to build many long-lasting relationships because the more science and trade agreements you have the higher you can fly.

One of the racial attributes is called Repulsive, and having it means you cannot do any diplomacy other than declare war and surrender. Sometimes the other races in the galaxy are repulsive (very often in the higher difficulty levels), and you have no choice but to be at war with them. It keeps you on your toes and makes diplomacy with the other races even more important.

Espionage

Name a game that has fun espionage. Go ahead take your time. Espionage in turn based strategy games is like a water level in a side-scrolling platformer. It almost feels like a necessary evil that breaks up and bogs down the gameplay. It’s something that you need to deal with before continuing with your game.

MOO2 gets it right once again. In this game you handle all your spying activity in one screen with no need to manually move all your spies around. You simply assign offensive and defensive spies where you choose, give them a mission and thats it. Depending on how many spies are on offense vs how many spies are on defense, together with spy skill (which can be modified by racial bonuses and technology) your missions are successful or not on a given turn. Sometimes you will capture enemy spies. An alert saying “Your spies have caught and killed a Bulrathi spy” will be shown. Other times your spies will get killed, and you will need to replace them.

Here is the cool part. Sometimes after completing a mission (stealing technology, blowing up a barracks) your spy will report with “Your spy has stolen Planetary Supercomputer technology. Your spy framed the Bulrathi.” Making your target think the Bulrathi stole the technology! Leaving you without any diplomatic problems and maybe even causing some between your enemies! I am sure when you get reports of “Bulrathi has stolen a tech” it’s a frame up much of the time.

You can choose to confront the spy civilization in question and tell them to stop spying, but what if they never spied? Is it worth the risk of ruining a trade agreement?

Science

Science isn’t managed like in other games where you will get all the technology eventually. See in the picture there are eight fields of science? And in each field there are several options? Well you get to choose only one path of research per field, per level. Meaning, in this case in the Physics field of science, I can choose to get the Phasor (which is a ship weapon), Phasor Rifle (for my ground troops) or Multi-Phased Shields (Ship defense). If I choose phasor I will be forever unable to get Phasor Rifle or Multi-Phased Shields. The next time I see the physics field it will have three different options and I will need to choose again.

You always need to choose what component of your technology you want to improve. Do you want faster engines or more powerful missiles? Do you want more food per farmer or a faster growth rate? Do you want more income or better trained troops?

This concept is also what makes technology trading so interesting. You can get research one thing, and an ally can research another, and then you can trade them. Another reason why having long-term allies is good in this game beyond just safety. Of course you can also steal the technology with spies or through capturing ships! I am a big fan of making choices in my games. Having to make a definitive choice on which technology to research and which technologies to leave behind is one of the most interesting choices and greatly improves variety.

This system of science mitigates a runaway leader problem because that runaway leader can never get all the technology on the way up. Although the AI isn’t very good at this, conceptually if all of the “losers” band together and trade technology while the runaway leader is only getting 1 tech per field the losers might have a pretty good catch-up mechanic.

Of course, racial attributes can effect how you research. When you are customizing your race you can make them generate more research per scientist, or you can take the “Creative” trait, which means you never need to choose. When you research a field you get all technology in the field. It’s a very powerful trait. On the other hand, you can take “Uncreative”, and only have one random choice available from each field.

Another awesome concept that has to do with science: when you keep developing in one field of science, it improves your ability to use that technology. Applying level of “miniaturization” to all your ship systems from that field. This means when you first discover a new kind of gun it takes up lots of space on your ships. Then once you keep researching laser weapons, with each level of research you complete, the gun gets smaller and smaller on your ship. It’s progressive and realistic concept that goes almost unnoticed.

War

Space combat is a rewarding experience in MOO2. You get to design, construct and name your ships. You have a full hands-on approach to making your fleet. You choose the size of your ship, and all the systems on it from a list of weapons and upgrades you have researched.

Missile ships, beam ships, ships that carry smaller ships, ships that do nothing but move quickly and self-destruct, ships with tractor beams, bombers and ships that are specialized in boarding and taking over enemy ships. That isn’t even all of them, those are just some of the archetypes I find myself using. Not to mention that “missile ship” has dozens of ways to do it.

Even the missiles themselves have upgrades! You can make your missiles super fast so they spend less time flying in space and being shot down. Missiles can be heavily armored so it takes more hits to shoot them down. They can have anti-jammer technology which will let them ignore enemy jammers, a common missile defense system. Your missile can be “MIRV” which means they split into multiple warheads and do 4x the damage on impact. Or… your missiles can be all of these things!

When you board an an enemy ship your crew and the enemy crew do battle. If you win you gain control of the ship. Sometimes you can use the ship, other times its immobile and has to wait until after the battle. You get a choice of keeping the ship, or reverse engineering it for technology.

Leaders can be assigned to ships to give them bonuses (more on leaders later). The only problem with war in MOO2 is how poorly the AI makes ships. The AI tends to go for a balanced approach to ship building when a min/max approach is usually superior. It’s a minor gripe, making your own ships is super fun.

Oh did I mention this game has multiplayer!? Yeah you can go fleet vs fleet with your friend. Of course setting up multiplayer on this ancient DOS relic is a bit of a chore.

Conquest

Other than the pride in victory, taking over planets has been injected with more fun than ever. Remember how I said all the aliens are different? Well they keep their racial attributes when you capture them.

Once you have them enslaved, you can transport them to other planets in your systems and breed them (as… politically incorrect as that sounds…) Let’s say for example that you conquer the Bulrathi. The Bulrathi can live and work on high-gravity planets with no ill effects (Usually working on a high-G planet has penalties). If you have high-G planets in your empire you can move the Bulrathi citizens to those planets where they will not suffer any penalties, and safety move your fragile colonists to a normal or low-G planets. Or maybe you capture a race of strong researchers and transport them to a planet with ancient artifacts to maximize your research. Master of Orion II is the best games at rewarding your micromanagement.

Leaders

A fun little gimmick. Leaders randomly offer you their services. There are colony leaders, and ship pilots. They offer special bonuses to the colony or ship. Usually these bonuses are VERY good like +40% to production or science. There isn’t much you can do about actually getting leaders other than wait, although the “charismatic” racial trait does help attract them. But it’s definitely fun to get a staff of truly powerful leaders (like the game in the picture above). Some planets you have can become amazing powerhouses when they get +60% to production and moral.

Colony Management

Creating amazing colonies is one of the funnest aspects of Master of Orion (or any empire building game). Remember when I said micromanagement is rewarded? Colony management is where it shines. Each planet has different size, weather, toxicity and mineral richness and some are better than others. You will look for large abundant terrestrial planets for your powerhouse colonies, but even that tiny, toxic, poor, high gravity worlds can be made into great colonies because of how buildings work.

While games like civilization have buildings like a library or a marketplace which add a multiplying to the cities natural output, Master of Orion goes a different way. Buildings in this game give you base resources in addition to the multiplier. A automated factory for example amplifies your production, but also adds production. Even if you don’t get any outstanding planets you are still in decent shape thanks to all the building bonuses you can acquire.

Winning the Game

There are several ways to win the game. You can win via diplomacy, by being voted galactic council leader, which is accomplished by having lots of alliances with people and buttering them up so they vote for you. Then of course you can kill or conquer everyone. The third is the most interesting win condition, you can call it the scientific victory. The Antarans are a race of malevolent aliens that harass you all game. They come out of nowhere and attack your colonies with superior technology and just do damage. Maybe towards the end of the game you can actually defend yourself, but for the majority of the game they are like a mob of raging barbarians. One of the victory conditions is to go to the Antaran home world and destroy it. It involves developing a dimensional portal and marching a massive fleet into unknown Antaran space. It is exciting.

Bottom Line

Master of Orion 2 got everything right. Even today, knowing what I know now, with all my experience playing these types of games I can’t think of anything to change about this game. Maybe it needs a graphics and sound overhaul, but even the graphics and sounds aren’t that bad. You can play this game on DOS if you have the correct tools. Do it. Here are the links.

Master of Orion II DOS Download
DOSBox: DOS emulator for Windows
BOXER: DOS emulator for OS X

Civ5 Cover Art

Civilization V, More Like Civilization FAIL

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I have been a Civilization diehard fanboy since Civ2. I played Civ1, but I just couldn’t handle how nasty it looked. Civ2 was the first to be accessible enough to keep me entertained, and boy did it. Since my discovery of Civ2, I probably logged two full years of gameplay between Civ2, 3 and 4 and I loved them all. I am telling you this to demonstrate how much I wanted to love Civ5.

I have been eagerly waiting for the game’s release since I heard rumors of it’s development. Then it was released for PC and not for Mac and I was devastated, I waiting even longer for it to finally be released for Mac. Now I have it, and I played it, and I tried my best to love it, but the game let me down in every respect. All the innovations are let downs, some positive changes that were made in Civ4 (for the better) were reversed, the tactical AI is about ten steps back. It’s hard to believe the game was even released this bad. I don’t want to be vague. Let’s sink our teeth in to the details of how horrible the game design and programming really is.

It’s generally good game design to reward players for playing well. You tell a player to do something, and if that player does it he should reap rewards. If he does it well he should be rewarded more. These rewards should be the what drives the game, they are there to encourage the player to continue. Civilization 5 seems to take the opposite policy. It puts forth obstacles, and then punishes you for overcoming them. Also all of the things you enjoyed about civilization games before you no longer get to enjoy here. Lets look at the things that used to be fun, and I will explain why they are not fun in this game.

Civ5 Cover Art

Prospecting and Exploring for New City Locations

It used to be fun to explore your surroundings and find juicy city locations. Then you need to race all your neighbors to those locations to grab them up as fast as you can. Well those days are gone. There are no juicy city locations in this game. You want to build your cities near luxury resources because they help generate happiness to your empire, but they hardly do anything for the actual city. Remember in Civilization 4 if you started with gems in your home town the huge smile that would creep across your face? Putting a mine on gems would give you a hammer and five gold turing that hill into a powerhouse tile! Well gems in Civ5 with a mine on them generate… I don’t even know something like four gold? Nothing to write home about. You can build cities pretty much anywhere and they will be about the same. Even things like cows or wheat which used to be spectacular tiles are just “meh” in Civ5.

Building New Cities

Building cities sucks. When you build a city you suffer several hinderances. The amount of happiness needed to enter a golden age increases meaning it takes longer between golden ages. The amount of culture needed to adopt a cultural policy increases. Your happiness decreases by two, and an additional one for each population the city births. Also there are wonders called National Wonders which are kinda like super buildings, like a super library, or super barracks. To build these wonders you need to build a barrack in every city. So the more cities you have the more buildings you need to make. Some of the time these buildings will be totally useless, but they will still cost you upkeep! So building more cities requires you to build more of these dumb buildings in order to make national wonders. I bet you can’t wait to get started! Of course a city is an investment and eventually (and I mean WAY down the road) a city will actually bring a return on all of those things it originally hinders. In the early game you only have one option for happiness, and that is luxuries. If you are fortunate enough to start next to luxuries then you can expand to four or even five cities before suffering. Later once your cities have any kind of production power, when you aren’t to busy building a military units or a wonders, you can build happiness buildings. But they will probably take 20+ turns to build. With each new city you are going to have to build a colosseum in it eventually, and it’s going to take way too long.

Improving Existing Cities

So building cities sucks, maybe it’s fun to grow existing cities? Not really. Your cities make such a pathetic number of hammers that it always takes forever to build anything. All the buildings scale with your production too, so it never seems to get any better. Gone are the days when you can spit out tanks each turn out of your powerhouse cities. As a matter of fact powerhouse cities are gone altogether. You can no longer specialize your cities, you simply have a city that has terrible production or a city that has average production, like I said there is nothing to get excited about. Let me also add how painfully slow city growth is. It takes ages to make a city large, and as city grows it generates more unhappiness for you to deal with (although this is typical of civilizations games so it’s a minor complaint) but doesn’t really give much back because of the sad tile yields.

Building tile improvements is mind numbing. You can build four: mine, farm, lumber mill and trade post. A mine adds one hammer, a farm one food, a mill one hammer and a trade post adds two gold. That’s it. Everything just adds one. Sure you can build stables, vineyards and quarries on whatever resource requires them, but they aren’t any better than a farm or a mine. For the first time, there isn’t really a reason not to automate your workers. You make no choices in how to develop your tiles (other than order of course) build a mine on all hills, farm on all river grasslands, and trade posts anytime you don’t know what to do. Or you can just build trade posts I guess.

I guess the Fraxis team decided that roads where overpowered in every previous Civ game and decided to make them worse. Now every tile of road costs you one gold per turn. That as much as some buildings cost. You better really think hard before making any roads because they are going to cost you for the rest of the game. When you connect two cities with a road you get trade route money which makes up for the cost of the roads I guess, but you can’t just put roads on everything like you used to. This took me a long time to get accustomed to, but then I thought “Well this isn’t so bad.” Later I realized how bad it was. Because of the new one unit per tile system moving and positioning an army is more important than ever. Without a road on every tile your army is doomed to getting clogged up and out of position. Which actually hurts you a bunch when you are on the defense. The person attacking you will probably already be organized outside your border. The defender now can’t get into a defensive stance because he only has one road and eight units. Where roads really overpowered? Do I really need to be punished for making lots of roads? Why don’t mines or farms cost money if roads do? You no longer need to build roads all over the place, so before you know it your workers all have nothing to do. Might as well use them to bait terrible AI moves in combat

Combat!

Civ5 Combat

Oh boy, let’s talk about the combat AI. The AI in this game is so bad, I feel like declaring war is an exploit. It is common to win wars with a handful of units, taking city after city with the same two siege units and swordsmen while reaching a kill-death spread of 10:1. The AI doesn’t hide it’s workers during war time, letting you poach a whole army of works that don’t even have anything to do. They will walk a unit right in front of your army, where there is a 100% chance he will die next turn, just to take one of your workers, and they wont even disband it before letting you take it back. If an AI is overseas there is absolutely nothing they can do to hurt you. The worst they can do is pillage some of your fishing boats and that is if you have no navy. It has no idea how to use siege, or deal with siege. It will consistently make the worst choice out of all possible choices. Clearly it’s a joke. It’s just like they forgot to program it. On higher difficulties the AI makes up for it’s terrible tactics by having 6x the units it should have, which is a pretty sloppy fix. It is a real shame too. I was very excited for tactical combat. For really planning out my moves and having a good time fighting. They just released the worst AI I have ever seen in a game. I can’t even beat chessmaster on the easiest level, and I can hold off an entire French invasion with two frigates and a cannon. Then when it comes to making peace the AI doesn’t make any sense. Sometimes I will join in on a war, and not fight a single battle, and the AI will offer me a peace treaty that involves them giving me all of their gold and three of their cities. Other times when I destroy all but two cities, and have a massive army knocking on the door step the refuse to give me even 30 gold with a peace treaty, preferring instead to just be captured.

Conquest

When you capture an enemy city. You are given four horrible options: raze, puppet, annex and liberate. You have to choose one. Liberating a city means you capture a city that was originally someone else’s (Japan’s city that was captured by England for example) and you give it back to them (back to Japan.) This gives you a reputation boost with that civilization, and grants them the city. This is rarely useful for when you either really don’t want the city, or really need a rep boost with someone. Raze means you burn the city down, and you do not get to keep it. During the burning process the city contributes five unhappiness to your empire for your trouble. Annexing a city means you take control of the city and suffer all the awesome punishments of taking on a new city to your golden age timer, your culture policy timer, you now need to build more buildings to make national wonders, and on top of all that you take five unhappiness. This unhappiness can only be dispelled by build a courthouse, a special building that takes forever to build and spitefully cannot be rushed. Pretty much, it sucks annexing cities even more than it sucks to build cities.

The third, and clearly the best, option is called create puppet state. Which is my most hated feature of this horrible game. You take over the city, and only suffer two unhappiness and it doesn’t carry any of the other disadvantages of owning a city. The trade off is you don’t get to control this city. It will be controlled by a governor and build only non-military, non-wonder structures. That’s it. It is awesome. You get a city that will make you science and money, but wont cost you anything a city usually costs you, you just don’t get to control it. You are rewarded, a great deal, for choosing to play the game LESS. It is actually much better to have puppet cities than your own built cities. In my best games, I would only build 3-4 of my own cities, and then I would puppet 20-30 of the AI’s cities because of how much better it is than actually making your own empire. I literally only controlled 3-4 cities, and chose to not play the game on the other 26+ because of how beneficial it was. Talk about game design failure. Sure sometimes I would annex a city much later just so I can make military units. But only the absolute best production cities need to be controlled to field your army. Considering how small of an army you need to easily steamroll the inept AI you don’t need more than 3 cities making units ever. Or you could just pay city-states to give you units but I am not even going to get into that.

Diplomacy

It has been gutted from this game. Diplomacy in this game is pretty darn close to non-existent. You can no longer trade for maps (why was this removed?) You can no longer trade for contacts (why was this removed?) not that this matters since you can no longer trade science either. You can only do two things, you can trade luxuries for gold, and you can sign research agreements. Trading luxuries is pretty standard, except they took a giant step back and allow trading a lump sum of gold for an agreement that will last for thirty turns. This is highly exploitive because you can trade everything to an enemy AI, and take all of his gold on turn zero. Then you can declare war on him/her and break all the deals, yet keep all the money on that same turn. I would feel worse about doing it if the AI wouldn’t do the same thing. And I don’t mean they take my money and declare war, I mean they GIVE ME their money and agree to accept my sugar for thirty turns, then break the trade. This exploit was discovered long before civ5, and the solution was implemented in civ4. You could only trade gold-per-turn for luxuries. So you both only benefit if the trade is going on. Why did they backtrack on this? It’s already a proven exploit. Research agreements are actually a great idea. It gives you a reason for being at peace. You both pay an amount of gold and then if you remain at peace for thirty turns, you both get a random science. I like it. But it’s the only useful peace of diplomacy in the game. Then there are these things called pacts of secrecy and pacts of cooperation which don’t seem to do anything. And of course you can declare war, and the AI will declare war on you all the time for no reason and any reason.

I am sure there is more, I haven’t even touched on the lack of espionage of any kind, the mind-numbing unit-experience system, the boring great people and wonders, or the game-breakingly imbalanced city-states. But I don’t even have the energy. This game doesn’t deserve this much of my time.