Rest in peace little buddy.
Today my wife and I lost our beloved pet cat of 15 years who was named Midnight Mouse, or “Middie”. He exhibited no signs of diminished activity and was actually quite playful this morning when we both left for work. When I came home this afternoon, he had already passed away. My wife and I are having him cremated and will keep his ashes. This loss quite literally is devastating to me emotionally and while some may not understand the connection with a pet, many others do and understand what I am talking about. Over the last 15 years Middie was very interactive with my video gaming habit, often sitting on my desk while I was playing a game or trying to write a blog post.
Rest in peace little buddy.
Rest in peace little buddy.
In February 1864, Major General Quincy A. Gillmore, commander of the Union's Department of the South at Hilton Head, South Carolina, ordered an expedition into Florida to secure Union enclaves, sever Confederate supply routes (especially for beef and salt), and recruit black soldiers. Brigadier General Truman Seymour, in command of the expedition, landed troops at Jacksonville, in an area already seized by the Union in March 1862. Seymour's forces then made several raids into northeast and north-central Florida.
While I have put in some hours on this game I do not purport to be an expert at this or the construction/political simulation genre in general. My build order preference is unique to my experience and what I detail below certainly may not be the best suggestion or optimal approach. One of the great things about this game is the ability to learn and evolve through trial and error, all along the way making both “happy accidents” as well as bone-crushing errors that drive you batty (I could not tell you how many miles of roads I have demolished.
It turns out that the game has completely hooked me in the time since purchase. I have completed the main campaign and have logged over 200 hours of game time on Steam, more than any other game I have owned on that platform – in almost ten years. The closest other game was X-COM: Enemy Unknown (a freaking great game in its own right). There is just something about T4 that hit me at the right time and was just the right amount of different to capture my interest.
The game attempts to simulate space flight by using Newtonian physics in an effort to correct a perceived lack of realistic physics based flight models in other space flight simulators that were available at the time of initial development. It models with a high degree of accuracy planetary motion, gravitational effects, atmospheric flight and orbital decay among other things. It allows the user to experience both manned and unmanned space flight missions.
The scenario consists of three objectives: Orel Outskirts (controlled by the Germans at the start, decaying by 10 points per turn after turn 3), Kursk (controlled by the Soviets at the start, decaying by 25 points per turn after turn 2) and Road to Voronezh (also controlled by the Red Army, decaying by 50 points per turn after turn 4). The margin required to win is 99 points and if there is no change from the start, the Soviets win outright.
That board game was first released (from my limited research) in 2008 by Academy Games and a second edition followed in 2012. There were a number of expansions released for the game and the total product won a number of awards upon release. The PC iteration currently sports two expansion packs, Ghost Divisions and Storms of Steel (standalone), also available through Matrix Games. The base game is currently running for $39.99 USD. The Ghost Division expansion is $14.99 USD and Storms of Steel is $39.99 USD (all price points are for the digital download versions).
This semi-historical scenario begins at 04:00 on September 24, 1943 with the German forces comprised of the 38th Infantry Division that was depleted to at or below regiment strength. Hitler had allowed elements of Army Group South to fall back across the Dnieper, and faced Soviet forces that consisted of a refreshed and refitted rifle regiment whose goal was to establish a bridgehead and prepare for any possible counterattack.
The Allied units were designated as “ANZAC Force” and led by then Brigadier General Arthur Samuel Allen, consisting of a depleted group of soldiers fighting with mortars, small arms, scattered artillery equipment and short of ammunition. This force was expected to hold off the advancing German 6th Mountain Division commanded by General Ferdinand Schörner as long as possible to allow for the larger forces to the northwest to withdraw to the Thermopylae Line via Larissa.
The objectives are layered into three tiers: a brilliant mechanized warfare victory can be achieved by the destruction of 60 combat strength points as represented by the Soviet 149th Tank Regiment. A high speed victory can be obtained by securing the four specified objectives within seven turns, and an occupational victory can be obtained if it drags into turn eight.
The in-game server browser was powered by GameSpy and that went under several months ago making the creation and joining of a SWAT 4 game impossible without the aid of a third party modification. Unfortunately the most popular mod that could do this actually disabled the single player capabilities of the engine so it was a complete no-go for me.
The original publisher of the games, Sierra Entertainment went defunct in 2008. The developer of the most recent PC variant of SWAT 4, Irrational Games officially closed shop last month ending any hope of either an expansion pack to follow-up The Stetchkov Syndicate or a modernized and updated version of the game, such as a SWAT 5. Given the success of the Bioshock franchise, it is easy to see why SWAT was dropped from their efforts.
The base game and expansion pack were based on a heavily modified Unreal 2.0 engine and the resulting retail release required multiple patching to be brought closer to a playable state. The Athena Sword expansion pack however was widely panned upon release for its horrible map optimization, which made otherwise stout gaming machines at that time crawl even at the lowest graphics settings.
Last evening the rebels managed to shoot down one of the F/A-18 Hornet strike aircraft and capture both the pilot and weapons officer who managed to bail out. The mission briefing goes into some detail as to where they are being held, a farmhouse that is near the crash site. The primary mission is to rescue both the pilot and the weapons officer and escort them to the extraction zone.