Pentium III 800+, 512MB RAM
3D Graphics Card with 16MB+ Video RAM
DirectX 8.1 or Higher
DirectX Compatible Sound Card
Rated E 10+
Supreme Ruler 2020 is a follow up to Battlegoat Studio’s Supreme ruler 2010. I haven’t played the original, but I must say that this is by far the most complex strategy game that I have ever experienced. If you think our current world is a mess, wait until you see what Supreme Ruler 2020 has in store for you! Every nation is in turmoil and the United States isn’t so united anymore with their states threatening to attack each other. Oil prices are through the roof and many countries are still very dependent on petroleum. Communism is coming back to Moscow and Israel and Iran are still at odds, but this time with nuclear force. With all of these international crises, how will you lead your people? Will you rule by force, diplomacy, or let your nukes do the talking?
So with that lovely backdrop, let’s talk about getting our hands dirty! There are two single player modes, campaign and scenarios. There are four campaign missions that are intertwined and structured to help you become the ultimate ruler. You have to play them in order and complete the tasks to become victorious. If you do not complete the missions and go your own way, the campaign will switch to sandbox mode and let you conquer the world on your own.
I enjoyed the scenarios a bit more than the campaign; I liked picking up someone else\'s mess instead of starting from scratch. There are eighteen scenarios and they are all unique. This is a pretty open ended game play mode and you can alter the victory conditions and enemy AI. Some of the missions can be completed quickly or you can choose to conquer the world while you’re at it.
There is multiplayer support for LAN and internet, allowing up to sixteen people to play together. However, when I looked online I didn’t see any active servers.
Before even attempting to play this game, go through ALL of the tutorials. The interface is very complex and has a steep learning curve. Gone are the days of just collecting wood, food and ore. Instead, you can manage your cabinet ministers of Production, Research, Finance, State Department, Military, Operations and Defense.
Once your game is loaded, you’ll be greeted with a world map, a paused timer and probably an e-mail message or two. You’ll get e-mail notifications to let you know about your approval rating, diplomatic offers, ally needs, territory gains and losses, enemy notifications, and more. Look at each cabinet member and see how each area is doing. You can let them do their job or you can tweak settings and override them. There are so many things to control from taxes (Low Income / High Income / Corporate / Small Business / Sales Tax / Unemployment / Property / Pension Fund.), Social Spending (Healthcare, Law Enforcement, Education, Environment, Cultural Subsidiaries, Family Subsidiaries, Infrastructure), Land Development, Imports/Exports, Diplomacy, and Military/Defense. Once you have things where you want them, click on the play button to start your game.
Chances are your nation will not be self sufficient. You will have to produce or trade for the following commodities Agriculture, Fresh Water, Timber, Petroleum, Coal, ore, Uranium, Electric, Consumer Good, Industry Good, and Military Good. There will be plenty of enemies out there but you can try and make allies by offering diplomatic offers. You can offer Free Trade, Formal Alliance, Air Support, military backup, etc. They may accept your offer, negotiate it or tell you to take a long walk off of a short pier.
When it comes to warfare you can use weapons of mass destruction or standard missiles. You can choose what the tanks, helicopters, and planes are armed with. You can declare war and hot spots with the click of a mouse. Like everything else there is so much to control within the military. You can manage the recon, tanks, anti-tanks, artillery, air defense, infantry, planes, supplies and choppers. It’s not all about blowing stuff up, as you’ll have to think and plan ahead. If you want to get a good first shot, use Reconnaissance.
On the subject of things blowing up, let\'s talk about graphics. The world map uses imagery from NASA which is pretty cool. The graphics aren’t incredibly detailed but you will see individual planes, tanks, ships and buildings. It’s probably better not being able to zoom in on all the bloodshed. The explosions weren’t that impressive and overall, I wasn’t blown away by the graphics in general. They get the job done though.
The sound effects are decent. You’ll hear military vehicles and air craft moving, explosions, and radio calls for reinforcements. Voice narrations on the tutorials would have been a nice touch, and it may have made them more interesting. The menu music was nice and very war-like; it gets you pumped up for battle.
From an appropriateness perspective this game is pretty clean. Yes there is war, and it can be avoidable but not all the time. Fortunately you don’t see blood and gore; just military units disappear when defeated. Although this game is appropriate for a child, I would not recommend it for children because of the learning curve alone. I would only recommend this game for hardcore strategy gamers or control freaks.
Available on PC, Mac, Linux
Versions reviewed 3.30, 3.100
Frets on Fire is an open source PC response to Guitar Hero and Rock Band. You can use many music game controllers, including Rock Band, Guitar Hero, and Guitar Praise; or there is always your keyboard. This game is the most fun when using the Guitar or Drum controllers. The basic game play goes as follows: You have different colored fret bars on the guitar, and when you see a colored note line up on the bottom you have to strum and press the corresponding colored fret bar. Drumming is similar using the pads and foot pedals. It takes some coordination and getting used to but it’s pretty easy to pick up. There are tutorials available that will show you the basics.
Frets on Fire can import songs from most of the PS2 versions of Guitar Hero. Music can also be downloaded from the internet if you know where to look. (I only download songs I legally own.) The mod that I am reviewing does not have the import feature built into it; it just prompts you for the song directory.
Frets on Fire X is a fork, or a standalone modification of the original Frets on Fire. It’s built off of the python based Frets on Fire engine. If you can’t run Frets on Fire, you might not have much luck getting this one to run either. With that said, I found FoFiX to be much more stable.
Frets on Fire X offers much more than increased stability. It has many great themes that can transform your game to look exactly like Guitar Hero or Rock Band. The themes it comes with are pretty stripped down. Two player multiplayer support has been added as well. If the song supports it, you can play drums too! The earlier Guitar Hero songs will not support drums.
The game modes are as follows. For single player there is quick play and solo tour. Both modes are pretty much pick-up and play unless you manually configure the career mode. The career mode is like Guitar Hero where you cannot play some songs until you beat the previous tier. Setting up the tiers is all done manually by creating and editing ini files. Having the songs neatly organized in game specific folders helps.
Unlike Rock Band and Guitar Hero, there is no story of a band or any things to acquire such as a van or private jet. The main purpose of this game is to play songs. One cool feature is that you can share and upload your high scores on the internet and really see how you rank against everyone else.
Multiplayer has co-operative and face-off modes. In the co-op mode each player gets their own note streak counter and star power / overdrive meter, but they share a single rock meter, and score. Face-Off mode completely duplicates the first player game window for the second player, with separate rock meters and scores. Whoever does better in the end, wins. Lastly, there’s a Pro-Face-Off mode where each note player 1 hits decreases player 2\'s rock meter, and vice versa; the goal is to cause the other player to fail.
Customizing Frets on Fire X is pretty easy to do. You can find tons of themes online and all you need to do is drop them into the themes folder and select it from the options menu in the game. I’ve seen BioShock, SpongeBob, Star Wars, and of course Rock Band and Guitar Hero themes. It is worth noting that most of the stages are static images. You can get animated stages with some tweaking. It is possible though.
With a fresh install of Frets on Fire X, you will not be impressed with the graphics. I highly recommend installing themes to make the game look a lot better. A more powerful PC may be needed to enable all of the bells and whistles. If you do have the power and ability to tweak it, it will look very pretty.
The audio will not disappoint as long as you can get some songs to play with. When you miss a note it will be muted in the song. There is no obnoxious bad strum noise. The songs I have in my game sound great, however I did have to delete a rhythm.ogg to make my “Freebird” song sound a whole lot better.
Stability wise this game ran pretty well for me. The occasional glitch was usually remedied by restarting the game. Vista users will have to run the executable as an administrator.
When it comes to appropriateness, it all depends on what kind of music and themes you install. Unlike the console games, you can remove songs that you do not wish to play. You can also remove inappropriate stages and fret designs. Frets on Fire X is available for PC, Linux, and Mac computers. I highly recommend it for any guitar game enthusiast. Just keep your song downloading legal.
32MB DX9 Video DX 9 Sound
Heavenly Harmony and microphone/headset required!
Heavenly Harmony is a Christian karaoke/American Idol style game. The original game comes with twenty-five songs, and the Gold version comes with forty. For the reasonable price of $24.95 you can add thirty popular Contemporary Christian songs. This expansion pack is compatible with both versions of Heavenly Harmony.
What songs are there?
Here is the song list; the selection and variety is great. Many of the best Christian artists are represented here. The genres vary and cater to people of all ages.
Sing Your Praise To The Lord
The Greatest Story
Take You At Your Word
For My Love
Not to Us
David Crowder Band
Give You Glory
I Still Believe
Walk By Faith
Don\'t Run Away
Create In Me A Clean Heart
It Is You
Steven Curtis Chapman
All In (Letting Go)
The Extreme difficulty will be new to those who do not own the other expansions. The added songs and grading are more challenging in my opinion. There are only a handful of easy/medium songs.
Installation was a breeze; it detected my Heavenly Harmony install and put the songs right in. If you have the original Heavenly Harmony you will not be able to easily distinguish the new songs from the old. The gold version groups the songs for you and these can be found in the Contemporary category.
The game engine is still the same and there are no new locations to sing at. However, if you own the Gold version, there\'s a free jampak expansion that adds guitar and drum support. With the added instruments, the interface looks very similar to Guitar Hero.
This game is all about music and the mp3 files sound good. There\'s plenty of variety. I like the artists and many of the songs they chose. There’s a good balance of male and female vocals.
I did not experience any technical difficulties or crashes.
This game is all about singing Christian music, so I can’t fault it for anything here.
Cloud 9 Games has released a great expansion pack to an already entertaining karaoke game. I highly recommend it to everyone who owns Heavenly Harmony. If you have the Gold version, there’s a free jampack that adds other instrument support for many of the songs in this expansion. The instruments and vocals will challenge you and you’ll definitely get your money’s worth here.
8X CD-ROM 32MB
32MB DX9 Video
DX 9 Sound
USB Microphone included!
Heavenly Harmony just got better! Heavenly Harmony Gold is an updated version that has new songs, new venues, a recording studio, and best of all, guitar and drum support. If you currently have Heavenly Harmony, you can get all of these features with a free downloadable upgrade. The instrument support is added with free jampaks that you can get from cloud9games.com. Guitar Hero, Rock Band and Guitar Praise guitars are all supported. Rock Band and Guitar Hero drums work too. The microphone is proprietary and has to be obtained through Cloud 9 Games for $30. If you are upgrading your existing Heavenly Harmony, you NEED to have the USB microphone beforehand.
For those of you who are not familiar with Heavenly Harmony, it’s a karaoke/American Idol style singing game. As you sing a song, there is a meter that has three different levels you fit into. You can be a shower singer, in the choir, or on tour. After each song you get to see if you qualified for a CD to be made and how popular it is. I’m typically a choir rated singer and my CD’s go out to family and friends. If you’re like me skill wise, there are some mini games you can play to help improve your singing accuracy. There’s a pitch detection tool called Range Finder which you can use to see what your vocal range is. Tune-A-Tuna is a mini game where you have to catch tuna into a basket. You move the basket left and right by singing one of two notes. Early on in that game, you can press example keys to get the right pitch until you learn it. Pitch-N-Pass is a racing game where you have to sing a note to get your car to move. In that mini-game you don’t get example keys. Lastly there is Do-Re-Mi where you have to hit each note consistently and it will display your accuracy at the end.
There are a couple of new additions to Heavenly Harmony Gold. There’s a free singing mode where you will not get any note guidance whatsoever. Another new feature is after you sing a song you can alter and produce it in the recording studio. You can add special effects like an echo or a chorus to your voice. You can even change the volume of your voice and music behind it. Once you’re happy with it, you can easily share it with friends and family and even send it right from the game. I wish there was a delete button to hide the evidence that I attempted to sing a song and failed miserably.
The interface has been revamped and finding what songs to sing has gotten a lot easier! The songs are now sorted by categories such as Gospel, Rock, Contemporary, and Christmas. Four new venues have been added, though you have to sing well to unlock them.
Thirty new songs have been added to Heavenly Harmony Gold. Here is the complete song list: http://www.cloud9games.com/proddetail.asp?prod=HHG01
Some of the new songs include hits like “Big House”, “Cinderella”, “In Christ Alone”, Blessed Be Your Name”, “Take You At Your Word”, “Holy is the Lord” and more. Ten of the songs come from the original Heavenly Harmony. If you want the other fifteen you have to buy the song pack for $15.
The songs themselves sound great. Some tweaks may have to be made to make the microphone sound good. I experienced lag and static feedback coming from the microphone. To fix those issues, you have to go into the options area and adjust the microphone buffer to a level that sounds the best. There are three levels (slow, medium, fast). On the fastest setting you won’t hear yourself singing through your speakers.
The game’s interface is easy to navigate and it can detect what model instruments are plugged in. It also checks to see if your sound settings are set incorrectly. If they are wrong, it will tell you the steps necessary to correct any problems it finds. It’s pretty much “dummy-proof”.
The graphics are the same quality as the previous version. The new venues look nice and the singer models are the same. When you’re playing instruments, the notes look the same as Guitar Hero. The notes themselves are pretty challenging even on the medium difficulty. Many Christian Games are easier than their secular counterparts and this is not the case here. Not every song currently has guitar or drum notes, but jampaks are continually being released to add instrument support for other songs, so there’s plenty of replayability here.
If you’re looking for an alternative to the other music games out there, this is definitely a game worth considering. You will always have to have a singer in your band, but the added instrument support takes this game to a whole new level. The song selection is great; there’s a song for every music taste and every style. The expansion packs are a must have as well. My only disappointment is that the microphone is now proprietary for technical and compatibility reasons*. Rock Band or the original Heavenly Harmony microphones will no longer work. Don\'t let the microphone stop you from checking this game out. :)