Author - Ripper71

STLV: 57 Year Mission Las Vegas Photo Gallery

Creation Entertainment has been continuing its SciFi convention for 57 years now and it shows no signs of slowing down! There is a particular scifi series that the convention is most know for, but very much like the universe its associated with, its extremely inclusive to whatever show or even genre is welcomed as part of their community. As a result you may find someone in a BSG uniform chatting with ToS Deadpool while ST and SW fans look on with smiles and laughter.

The show is also known for the diversity of actors from across the film and television industry who share the comradery of the event through great panels and lots of photo and autograph possiblities and this year was no exception. I saw an actor from one of my all time favorite horror movies on the same stage as actors who have played a character with the last name “Kirk” on various scifi shows. It’s a convention where fans and their heroes get a chance to be scifi nerds together.

It’s probably a bit obvious that names of shows and individual actors have been danced around and that is because that is how things were during the event. There is a very big strike going on at this time so Creation Entertainment and the members of film and television unions tried to avoid discussing bodies of artistic work they have done as part of the strike. Some moderators asked questions about how the entertainers had gotten into the business and any other things they would have wanted to be if not actors basically discussing personal rather than acting related work. Others addressed the elephant in the room and talked about the strike and why it was happening and why it is so very important.

Even with all of that the panels were informative and entertaining and definitely worth hitting every year. The convention floor always has a large mix of vendors with items from just about every major scifi series along with plenty of autograph/selfie tables for many of the scifi celebrities in attendance and the secondary stage hosts many panels on real life science and space subjects. STLV: 57 Year Mission Las Vegas was another rousing and well attended success. We can’t wait to see what’s talked about and seen next year at STLV: 58 Year Mission Las Vegas from Creation Entertainment.

Photo Gallery

Aiper Thor-S Gaming Speaker Review

I was walking around one of the night events at CES getting ready to call it a night knowing I was going to have a 13-hour day the next when I got a text that I won a raffle for a wireless speaker and to stop by the Aiper wireless pool cleaner booth. When I stopped by the booth I received an Aiper Thor-S Gaming Speaker and boy I definitely wanted to pass the word on about it.

Speaker or Martian War Machine?

The first thing that has to be mentioned about the Thor-S Gaming Speaker is that calling it a portable speaker is like calling a stealth fighter an airplane. Or in this case, calling War Of The World walking machines as some SciFi ship. That last one fits the best because this is a large portable speaker designed to look and sound like an alien ship with mechanical spider-like tripod legs and a front that looks like a part eye and part laser shooter. The back looks like it has an exhaust port and there are lights in multiple locations that can breathe or be music-responsive lighting to name a couple of settings. The legs are adjustable and the volume and bass knobs are built into the design to lend more to the alien ship design feel.

As if that is not already enough when turning the Thor-S on it plays a SciFi sounding machine noise, as well as when it connects to sources and powers down, and probably a couple of other sounds we haven’t even found yet. The speaker’s design and lighting are nice and the mechanical noises it makes going between settings is great but in the end, it needs to be more than that. It has to have a clean sound otherwise it’s not going to work as its primary function which is a quality sound experience. Luckily this is not a concern at all because this speaker rocks. It has Bluetooth 5.0 connection, TWS stereo sound, and X-Bass Technology combined with Insert Nuvoton DSP, 6+ hours of playback and a 10M device range just to name a few things. The Thor-S can also pair with another Thor-S to provide 360 surround sound as they chain together, if there is too much interference between the speakers you can always use a 3.5mm aux input to maintain your sound experience. It even has double passive radiators, eliminates resonance, and has knobs to make bass and volume adjustments that are built into the aesthetic design of the speaker. You can also adjust the playback controls on the speaker which is very handy when gaming.

They can pair up!

The Aiper Thor-S is a great speaker not just to listen to but to look at as well. Solid feeling quality across the board, it only shines more when it comes to accurate performance. When not in use I put it on a table in my hallway and pat it on the “head” like a pet whenever I walk by. Then when I want to play some Call Of Duty Mobile or listen to some music in bed it takes me less than 30 to make a connection to a new device, half that time once paired, and I can choose between listening to one or two speakers worth of sound giving either a 180-degree coverage or go for the two speakers 360 coverage. If your phone rings while you are gaming or whatever the Thor-S has a built-in microphone so you can still catch that important call then get right back to the action.

The Thor-S Gaming Speaker is not water resistant or proof so it’s not recommended for the bathtub or the pool. Considering Aiper specializes in wireless pool cleaners it would not surprise me if Aiper came out with a waterproof version eventually. Otherwise, the Thor-S does whatever you might want a personal speaker to do and does it with SciFi style.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Tribit AquaEase Bluetooth Shower Speaker Review

When you are in a full house you tend to time your shower water usage so no one starts a cold morning with a cold shower. My solution was to make a shower playlist and listen to a certain amount of music to help time my water instead of annoying alarms. I play them through a portable speaker across the room so it doesn’t get wet with my phone on the towel rack balanced close enough for me to adjust the volume between tunes and pause in case someone needs to talk to me. It’s a rather antiquated example of how to solve the problem and luckily Tribit came up with an upgrade in the shape of the AquaEase Bluetooth Shower Speaker.

At its core it’s exactly what it advertised, a water-resistant speaker with adjustable playback buttons. It takes only seconds to pair, just like anything else you might want to Bluetooth 5.3 connect to. You power on the speaker, check the device you are pairing too, and then select the speaker. What’s cool is what it does next. If the device you are pairing with, such as your phone, has a clock on it the speaker syncs up to it so that you know exactly what time you get in the shower and the time you reach up to turn it off. I have friends who have set their time ahead on devices so that they can avoid being late, well the speaker shows the time of whatever device it’s connected to so it should always match.

Shower with Music!

When it comes to a speaker you want to be able to change the sound levels to correspond to the levels on each tune. I’ve got one particular soundtrack that is crazy muddy and by bad luck I almost always have some high-quality studio mix right after it and suddenly the house is alive with the sound of my music… with someone sleeping in the room right next to the bathroom all day because they work the night shift. In the past, I would ready myself to reach out to my phone on the towel rack and adjust as the tracks require, which can suck when you have a headful of shampoo and you wind up letting too much heat out. Now I have the AquaEase hanging from my curtain rack by the included mini lanyard right next to where I stand and push the volume up and down buttons and if I need to talk to someone while in the shower I can pause and restart the music.

Two of my favorite features of the speaker are one that is just for fun and another that could prove very useful. I’m that gadget geek who loves things that are shiny. AquaEase has some great lighting patterns going around the outside that go nicely with the music. When glancing up for the time, adjusting tunes, or leaning back to wash out the conditioner it’s a kick to see the lighting going, it’s even cool to just use it as a light and shut the rest in the bathroom off. The other part which is actually very useful it is equipped with a microphone so if a call comes in you can talk to it without rushing to dry your hand and the side of your hair off. That alone makes it worth its money for those who need consistent contact with their phones. All in a speaker which can be far more directional by the sheer fact it’s water resistant and can be brought in the shower and pointed right at you.

So far we’ve been sticking to the shower uses of the speaker. I play A LOT of Call Of Duty: Mobile on my phone, to the point I have calluses at the spots of my 4-finger grip and one of my most consistent issues is keeping track of time when I’m playing it. No in-game clocks and my phone is the gaming console so times fly insanely fast. I’ve found I can listen well to the game through the speaker, check time at a glance and if I shut off the lights in the room I can game to the speaker’s colorful show. Music is important to me so if I can improve my ability to listen to it at any given time I go for it and the AquaEase fits those needs.

If there is anything I would add to the speaker is next or previous buttons in case you want to skip or re-listen and maybe a mirror but the music changing can be the one thing you reach out of the shower to do.

AquaEase makes aqua time easier to groove through, but it’s more than just a speaker it’s an audio/visual sidekick. It can be useful in watery environments and out, wait until pool season kicks in and we find a whole new list of uses.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5


  • Built-in Clock
  • Play and Pause Ability
  • Bluetooth 5.3 Stable Connect
  • Microphone Built-in
  • Volume Control
  • Fun Lights


  • No next or previous buttons

Warhammer 40,000: Darktide Review

Role playing games such as Dungeons and Dragons have been around since the early 1970s and by the mid 1990s sci-fi table top properties such as D&D, Shadowrun and Warhammer 40k did well enough that several table top games crossover as popular video games to this day. A great example is Warhammer 40k: Darktide, the latest game from Fatshark the team that brought us Warhammer: Vermintide 2.

The hive city of Tertium has been taken hordes of monstrous enemies and by monstrous they are actually soldiers driven mad by war or plague or sinister forces that have resulted in nasty mutations and heretical fervor. You are a reject that has been imprisoned for one crime or another but given one last chance to serve the Inquisition by saving the city from the dark force corrupting the land. If you fail, the city falls.

An important thing to take note of in Darktide is the visual and sound quality is quite impressive and immersive. In a game of fantasy and technology colliding it can be hard to be immersive, so creating an amazing but somewhat believable world can be crucial. We definitely recommend using headphones for the deep, rich sound and good voice acting. Speaking of voice acting, over 85,000 lines of dialogue were recorded for the game! The video quality is apparent from the moment you open the game and in everything from the cut-scenes to the madness of battle against wave after wave of foes come charging at your team over and over, playing in the dark can draw you in more too.

Your team consist of 1-4 players playing co-op in matches chosen from a quest board. The higher you level the harder the maps that open up to you. In many 3rd or first person shooters you can pick up enemy weapons off the ground as you progress through the level but this game has it set up differently: you earn gold from missions then spend it on weapon upgrades. Each member of the party can choose between 4 classes that designed to match mostly common classes of shooters and RPGs. You can be a Skullbreaker (tank), Preacher (paladin), Psykenetic (mage), or Sharpshooter (sniper/warrior). If you like to run off on your own instead of sticking together you will probably get wiped out without a hand to help you. The game is designed to be co-op dependent, watching each others back is how you get through it. Share your resources as you come to them as well, if you hog all the ammo and health your teammates might think that you can just play on by yourself. You don’t each have to have a different class like some games do but it doesn’t hurt to mix it up either. If you have played Vermintide 2 or The Evil Dead or Hunt Showdown even a majority of team based games in recent years like Team Fortress or Resident Evil then you have a good idea about the gameplay.

Gameplay is an interesting hybrid of range and melee, it mostly seems to come down to thinning them out with range attacks and be ready to strike and defend with your weapon upclose and personal. As a result you defintely want to work on upgrading range and melee attacks as well as weapons and armor. Not all changes need to be upgrades though, you can take your time building your character from the ground up from back stories to voice and body decisions such as build, tattoos, even the colors of eyes and hairstyle. It’s nice to not only play the style you choose but the build you like. If you get the Imperial Edition you also get extra outfits, skins, headgear and cosmetic portrait frame as well as a special tattoo and some premium currency. You even get the digital soundtrack!

One concern is whether or not there will be enough of a presence on the servers for the games to be kept full. This is mostly a concern since there are a lot of shooter games out there right now from remastered titles to new titles that require a small squads and are relying on the same pool of players. Being Warhammer 40K with its prestige-laden pedigree, it should bring players from everywhere from P&P table top players to Call Of Duty fans. Plus Fatshark, the developer, has promised this is just the first taste of a long lasting title spanning years which should keep players coming back for more.

Warhammer 40K: Darktide is just beginning as a title and already it is an impressive game. There is a lot of play in the game already with great graphics and sound and a variety of missions with different difficulties. It doesn’t punish a new player but still challenges a veteran of co-op games which can be a hard balance to achieve. We look forward to seeing how the game evolves and the fight goes on. Long Live The Inquisition!

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5

Hard West 2 Review (PC/Steam)

Strategy games date back to ancient times with some still surviving until modern days such as Senet and Chess. These days the board game Risk is a prime example of a strategy game stripped down to its basics while video games try to do the opposite creating more elaborate and detailed environments that make you think less about the rules and more about the gameplay enjoyment. With this in mind let’s take a look at one of the newest turn-based strategy games Hard West 2.

Fist off, if you didn’t play the first game that’s no problem the storyline is pretty self-contained with a lot of depth to it. There are dialogue questions which effect gameplay as well as telling a very gripping story. It’s about a gang who have a ghost train to rob only to find the devil going by the name Mammon challenging them to a game of cards for their souls. If this ended well then the story would have been really short. Instead the crew find themselves in a very paranormal pickle. The voice acting is excellent from everyone and when the dialogue gets a bit hokey it’s welcome since it shows the game trying to not take itself too seriously since it’s a turn-based paranormal western. The story is mostly told in cut scenes and in multiple choice question reveals which effect the loyalty of others.

Turn-based strategy gameplay is pretty straight forward being the norm now, most people would probably think of XCOM first for comparison. Hard West 2 is top-down version which relies on Action Points (AP) to determine how much movement and abilities you have to work with. For example the main character has three AP to work with so the player might use one point to get a position where you can shoot the bad guys, then another point to shoot, followed by a point used to duck your head for defense. All points are used up, unless the shot at the bad guy killed him then that character’s AP points reset and you have three to use again. This unique take on the AP system makes it nice so that you can really extend turns if you think ahead (aka: strategy) and figure out kill streaks completed by reloading AP. It makes it feel much more immersive to have the turn last so long and rewarding to come up with a great run.

The other big part of the fighting action is Luck. I’m notoriously bad luck when it comes to game odds so the Luck system is a very welcome one. If an enemy misses a hit on you or you miss a hit on them it fills up a Luck meter which you can then click on when you need a little extra luck performing an action. Adding that luck meter to a shot can make the difference of a kill shot or not which would reset AP. Finally it feels like the odds are ever in my favor! When they are, be sure to save often. Also, if hard difficulty isn’t cutting it for you, there is easy setting that make the play more dialogue driven. There is also a nightmare difficulty which definitely lives up to its name.

The environment really is up there with the kill streaks as being one of the big selling points for the game. It’s fun cruising along through wastelands in a ghost train with centipede legs. It’s neat to raise the dead or switch locations with other characters. It’s great to see the gory aftermath of witchcraft. I like it when the background is moving the whole time so it doesn’t feel like it is only a level. Riding a horse up to a train, shooting a baddy then climbing onboard while it’s cruising along doesn’t feel static. All of this keeps you coming back.

An interesting addition to the game is a deck of cards that you try to collect. Each card has a different ability and a player can hold as many as five cards at once and try to make poker hands for better results. It works similar to a skill tree and feels like a good start to an idea that could really be fleshed out. If there are any concerns it would be difficulty getting to elevated positions. We all know what Obi-Wan said about taking the high ground. For some reason trying to get on higher buildings or target characters up there can be really hard to do, so much so that a couple times I got frustrated and figured out alternate ways of doing it.

Hard West 2 is a great example of turn-based strategy games while showing such innovation on it that I would not be surprised becomes emulated and the new norm. It keeps you coming back with dozens of hours of playtime and excellent repeatability. I know I’m going to play it some more right after I’m done here.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

A Look at the 2022 Creation Entertainment Star Trek Las Vegas Convention

My favorite convention to attend every year is Creation Entertainment’s Star Trek Las Vegas. We take time off from work, put aside some money for the vendors and squeeze every minute we can out of very full days of stars among the stars. It is the place to go for all things Trek.

This year the convention took place at a new location, Bally’s on The Las Vegas Strip, and though the layout wasn’t optimal it didn’t stop a sell-out year of attendance. Whether on a stage or in the exhibitors, hall everyone was so happy to see each other and the interactions were stellar as usual. Fans got to chat while getting autographs or photos. The big Trek names got to interact individually with fans at their tables but to the whole convention in the main hall. Walter Koenig worked the stage with a very grandfather feel, George Takei made us laugh and feel heart felt sentiments as he talked about not just Trek experiences but how the lost members of the original series impacted his life. Kate Mulgrew is still our Captain Janeway and still has the gusto to keep captaining, and of course William Shatner was… well William Shatner. I doubt he will ever change. You didn’t have to be a bridge officer to be entertaining though. Ron Perlman and John Noble also handled the stages by themselves and were definite fan favorites. Ron Perlman in particular was having a terrific time up on stage and kept cracking himself up. A lot of people go to the convention for autographs mainly but stay for panels.

There are two main ways to get autographs and photos at the convention, one is through a sign-up system where you go into a separate room for the meetup and the other is at tables throughout the exhibitor’s hall. Each has its benefits but one of my favorite things about exhibit hall signing is the celebrity can work at their own pace, chat with people and take much more candid pics than the professional quality ones offered by Creative Entertainment. You can also walk by and see how they interact with their fans. Special kudos to celebs like Doug Jones, Garrett Wang and Michelle Hurd were definitely prime examples of how warmly they can treat their fans. Garrett Wang has impressed me this way every year I have attended and I look forward to it again next year, he always takes time for the fans and you can tell how much he cares about them by his interactions with them.

The exhibitor’s hall has a wide variety of booths and sci-fi/fantasy stars of just about all fandoms. There was Will and Holly from the Land Of The Lost as well as Star Trek Wines and the local Las Vegas Star Trek cosplayers. Star Wars is even welcome though don’t be too surprised it you take a little good natured ribbing. Then again the cardboard costumes can be fun too. They were even selling special pillows to help you sleep better and dream amongst the stars.

The only slight damper on an otherwise amazing show would be the convention space itself. The main theater seemed quite a bit smaller this year as well as having two of the theaters on the 26th floor of Ballys. The casino did set aside express elevators up to them but people would leave the big theater to go to something upstairs at about the same time so that even with the express there would be long lines and grumbling fans who probably should have went up sooner. I wouldn’t be surprised if STLV ends up back at its old location next year which seemed to have more than enough convention space and free parking.

Creation Entertainment’s Star Trek Las Vegas convention is one of the best meetups of starry eyed fans and friendly stars out there and though the root of the convention is Star Trek, it embraces fans of all types of entertainment and fandoms definitely embodying the ideals of the Federation.

Photo Gallery

Starship Troopers Terran Command Review

Come on you apes, you want to live forever?!? I found myself yelling this that at my computer screen as I started my first campaign in Starship Troopers Terran Command and I was still making Starship Troopers appropriate comments right up until writing this review. The question is does the game call out to non-fans and fanatics alike? Let’s find out! Ripper’s Roughnecks! Roll out! Hoorah!

It would be very easy to miss a lot of the satire in the game if the player doesn’t have a fair knowledge of the material the game is based off. First a very famous book, then a series of infamous movies and even a collection of great cartoons. Dark Horse even puts out multiple Starship Troopers comics all to try and bring the bug worlds to life. With all that history a couple games would be expected to pop up from time to time so Terran Command almost seems a little late to the party but properly loaded with satire. As they say though better late than never. Would you like to know more?

Starship Troopers Terran Command is a single player, real-time strategy game. Gameplay consists of playing the Mobile Infantry through a campaign with each scenario/map unlocking for replay once you start it. There are five levels of difficulty which are damage based: at easiest your weapons do 2X damage, normal is 1X and hardest is .5X. So gameplay and enemy damage remains the same no matter which difficulty which works well when trying to train yourself on play by starting easiest and working your way up, making for great replayability of both the campaign and the maps. The maps are well designed with interesting topography that allows for chokepoints and other strategic attacks and defenses. One of the more interesting mechanics are Clear Line of Sight and Clear Line of Fire when it comes to fighting. If you have two squads of rifleman side by side neither one of them can shoot through their neighboring squad without killing them so if you try to they freeze up and a red mark appears over their heads. Moving until they have a True Line of Sight which can be done by a different squad formation or more interestingly put them on higher or lower ground gives squads a better chance to help.

You don’t have to keep all of your men alive (unless that’s the mission) you just need to keep one man in the squad alive and you can even lose and recapture bases as long as you maintain your objectives. You can also refill your infantry squad when available, save games when you feel like it as well as autosave often and change difficulty on the fly. Game controls are mostly traditional real-time strategy style and game physics for the most part are what strategy players are used to.

The graphics and audio are really important in this game since nostalgia for the franchise will attract most of the players at first who always wanted to stomp on some Arachnids. The ships and infantry are well rendered with even their click comments sounding fresh out of the films and cartoons. It is definitely immersive and time flies when you’re on a bug hunt. You don’t have to know anything about the Starship Troopers world to play and enjoy the game but it does help to know the acting is supposed to be over-the-top. Even the cutscenes which are done as motion comics are filled with patriotic music, smooth voiceover and smiling troopers with their limbs still on. On the topic of graphics and troopers when you lose one in a battle you can zoom in and actually see them go in a manner you would expect from the movies, explosions and gore galore. I could say more but we need boots on the ground out there, mount up!

The main drawback in Terran Command is that there are only single player campaigns with no plans to go multiplayer at this point in time. As far as I know there are also no plans to make an Arachnid campaign which fans will be getting gung-ho for so hopefully that will show up in an expansion. If a player isn’t really into Starship Troopers this game may not hold their attention as long as this game really feels like a love letter from the fans to the fans who will love it even if they wish for a multiplayer or bug campaign. On a big plus side, in a game about bugs I didn’t see any technical ones.

Word of mouth from lovers of the Mobile Infantry should bring in fresh boots for bug stomping as well as Starship Troopers fans lining up to serve. Starship Troopers-Terran Command is a traditional RTS at its core but the game feels like Starship Troopers through and through. I will be going back to Starship Troopers Terran Command on a regular basis to get some, and to do my part because service guarantees citizenship!

Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure Pinball FX Review

I remember seeing Raiders of the Lost Ark in the movie theaters, multiple times. It was a scary adventure movie with great stunts, snappy dialogue and epic music, what more could a kid ask for? At age 10 I soaked it in and wanted more which I got through the other movies, even the fourth one that shall not be named had moments. Then add to that the fact that I was a pinball addict from the age of six and it was only a matter of time before it made a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup move to mix one of my favorite silver screen sagas with my favorite gaming experience for two great tastes that taste great together. The board did the series justice but these days with COVID-19 still around and social distancing especially a pinball machine that every player puts their hands on then suddenly playing at home is really the smartest move. But how many of us can afford to have pinball in our homes? Well it’s as close as your console or Steam these days in the form of Zen Studios Pinball FX 3, though there is the concern: can pinball be fun virtually with virtual physics? We ran Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure through the paces to let you know!

If the original board isn’t that impressive then a virtual board of it definitely wouldn’t be that exciting so luckily that is far from the case with this table. The real world version didn’t miss an opportunity to bring an aspect of the series to life in every bumper, flipper and plunger. The artwork on the cabinet looks like a title sequence for “Indiana Jones” and the score section of the cabinet has art inspired by the first three movies and is designed to look like one of the movie posters and does an amazing job of it. The plunger control, instead of just being the post of the plunger getting pulled back is Indy’s pistol and you pull the trigger to launch the ball. It then goes out on a beautiful table that plays between medium-fast down the table with a decently long surface. There are little “toys” that move through throughout the board adding to the adventure with reprised voice roles and original music from the trilogy. As a table it has always been a favorite and luckily available at a couple playable museums we visit.

Virtually the developers made sure to work all the important aspects of the original table with some additions only available on a virtual table. There are a couple different modes to play, one is the original where they went through and reproduced all of the important aspects of the original trying to make sure all the physics match exactly what happens on the real board. If you could get a pinball controller with flippers and a plunger that would probably be the only way to make it feel more realistic without being, well, real. This is definitely preferred by the hardcore pinball players who like to do tournaments and multiplayer play because the real world physics go right down to the ball which let me say is the very key to a good pinball game. If the ball doesn’t perform right the game won’t last and there have been plenty of pinball playing disasters that plagued the early days of virtual silver balling. Pinball FX was one of the first to pull it off and they are now known for it with different companies licensing their tables through them. Pinball FX 3 comes with Fish Tales for free so if you want to check it out and make sure you trust the physics and the controls then it won’t cost you the price of one of the fancier tables and if you have any tables from Pinball FX 2 then they are backwards compatible with FX 3! The best version of the game with tables you already know, win-win.


Once you are comfortable with the physics and controls of Pinball FX 3 and feel comfortable committing to a table then Indian Jones: The Pinball Adventure is a great table to try as a first purchase, being one table it’s cheaper than a trio pack. Besides being physically accurate to the table there are multiple ways of playing, single player, multiplayer, hot seat and single player enhanced. Hot seat is when you hand the controller off to another player for up to 4 players just like multiplayer at an arcade, single player is just you and multiplayer is online play against people from all over the world for tournaments and achievements. If you don’t feel that strong about your playing there are practice modes and other settings you can do to make your play better and more competitive. The favorite way to play in our household is the enhanced tables where there are animated events that happen throughout the game that wouldn’t work in the real world. A great example are the two planes on the table. During real life play when they are triggered you hear a flying noise and maybe a little shake of the planes (or almost tilted, yes you can do that in this too), on the animated table the two planes fly across the screen. Indy uses his whip, the tank does special stuff and other things I don’t want to spoil but it really adds a lot to the game.

In this game pack there is only one table, more tables came out for the movies but this is a kind of greatest hits from the first three which works nicely for entry pricing, the larger Indy packs cost a bit more so this is a great starter, trust me, I already have my eye on one of the Universal table collections (Back To The Future, E.T., and Jaws, with Jaws being king in our house).

Pinball FX 3 Indian Jones: The Pinball Adventure is a great starter table to get used to virtual pinball while at the same time getting to live through and re-enact favorite moments from the original trilogy. If you play true blue physics and gameplay it will be the closest thing you can get to the actual table without leaving home or investing in a table at home, if you like extra fun features then you get to experience all the creative touches the design team added to the experience. You can play alone, home party style or with anyone anywhere which in these days of CoVid is not something to sneeze at, though if you are sneezing and coughing you might want to just stick to online for right now…

Overall Rating: 5 out of 5

Evil Dead: The Game Review – Hail to the King

When it comes to previous Evil Dead games it’s hard to feel as much love as one wants to, especially with the earlier ones that became unplayable due to glitches corrupting the save files. So will Evil Dead: The Game take us to a groovy place chainsaws and deadites or will we find ourselves toying with hopes the Necronomicon sends the game through a portal to parts unknown?

The Necronomicon was first introduced by H.P. Lovecraft… nope! None of that background business. We are here to review the latest Evil Dead game which works off a system similar to Friday The 13th and Dead By Daylight where it’s an asymmetric game built of a team working for a common goal while dealing with a player enemy whose job it is to swallow their souls. It’s PvP in the sense that one player hits you with traps and enemies they summon for indirect fighting while a team of four players work together to find key items to advance the game such as the Necronomicon. Probably one of the best ways to describe it would be as an evil dungeon master setting up the environment on the fly to wipe out a team. The Survivor side feels a lot like Left 4 Dead but the Demon side has a kind of novel feel. It feels like map editing live against the players. The Demon side is addictive to play, messing with the other players game resulted in some laugh out loud moments. At one point I set a tree trap and when the players went by it nearly beat the soul out of them and it was hilarious.

To keep every match from feeling the same there are two types of skill level-ups: temporary and permanent. Throughout a map you collect things that improve the different aspects of the game temporarily improving range or melee or other things such as fear resistance. At the end of the match they all go away but the more matches you play the more permanent unlocks you can do for the character by leveling. Not having unlocks count across all of your characters helps keep the replay ability alive as well.

The characters are broken down into classes so that each player serves a role to help the group. The key to winning a match is teamwork and take roles you feel you can best use to help everyone. The Survivor characters are Leader (such as Lord Arthur), Warrior (such as Henry The Red), Hunter (such as Kelly Maxwell) and Support (such as Pablo Simon Bolivar) and each has its pluses and minuses. The Kandarian Demon classes are Necromancer (such as Evil Ash), Puppeteer (such as Eligos) and Warlord (such as Henrietta). Each class has their own Ash character as well so everyone won’t fight over the same one.

Evil Dead: The Game is, at its core, a multiplayer game with very little single player content: It is built for PvP. There is a choice to play the matches with an AI team but the AI could… use some help. That means it will rely on server population which can be hard to maintain, even games such as Call Of Duty have a hard time with that aspect. The game will mainly be played by fans of the series and those interested in the play style and that population then needs to be maintained through updates and additional map releases. That last part is particularly important because the maps in the game are large but look identical. ED fans will want other locales of the franchise such as SMart, the high school and Lord Arthur’s castle. The graphics are beautiful, the gore is over-the-top fun and hearing all the characters doing their one-liners is gold giving plenty of eye and ear candy to help. There is also a good amount of variety in the game with the different classes, traits, weapons and abilities to keep players distracted from lack of maps but eventually some new scenery is a must.

Evil Dead: The Game is a love letter to the Evil Dead franchise while being a fun player vs. team gaming experience. The atmosphere is there, the unique building options both during play through and character permanent stat builds help replay ability with plenty of good and evil character choices making the game an addictive experience. It will rely heavy on player population and updates though so hopefully it won’t wind up being dead by dawn…

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5

Pinball FX Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure Review

It almost seemed like an April Fool’s Day joke: a review hit our desk for the latest Indiana Jones Pinball FX table, just few days after the latest Indiana Jones pinball table dropped. It didn’t take long for us to realize it was the latest jump forward in quality from the engine used for previous games to the latest Unreal Engine. The question is does this jump in quality warrant moving on from your current collection of tables? Let’s take a look!

Really most gamers only need to hear “Unreal Engine” to know that there is something special being made. Unreal is a pedigree expected by the name alone. If it doesn’t have an impressive quality of graphics and audio as well as smooth playstyle then it isn’t living up to its name. In this case the game has a double expectation since it is built on the Unreal Engine but with the games and physics base from Pinball FX.

Luckily, Zen Studios knew what was expected of them and started out the new build with a very anticipated table with lots of bells and whistles in Indiana Jones: The Pinball Adventure. Before you even get into the table you get to see your arcade room where you can put trophies on shelves, posters on walls and rugs on the floor. The graphics are a bit cartoonish which works well since most tables also have bright, cartoonish graphics so it transitions into them nicely. When a table is chosen from the menu the “camera” flies in and does a tour of the board briefly before settling on a camera that looks at the whole table with the room to each side of it.

The Unreal Engine is put to good effect not just in the introduction to the tables, but in the performance of the machine itself. Whether you use the keyboard to play (shift buttons are the flippers) or if you use a controller (triggers RT and LT) the response time from hitting the flippers and their response as well as the physics of the silver ball all feel like a real table. Between our most recent reviews of Indiana Jones tables I managed to get some time with the real life machine and I can say that it actually plays better virtually than real life since there is no concern for the wear and tear of the real machines take over time or replacing official plunger control. It’s Indy’s gun on the official table, an 8 ball was used at the pinball museum I played at.

Besides the wear and tear on real life tables there are extra graphics and animations that can only exist on a virtual table. Indiana uses his whip to flick across the table to different treasures while a really big German tank takes aim while driving around and there are so many other touches that we don’t want to spoil here. The graphics are just gorgeous already so that when you add simultaneous animated events tied in the game is elevated to the next level. You can play the game without the virtual additions if you want to make it as close to the real thing as possible. You can also play it single player, hot potato, online and even tournament play giving you pretty much every option you might want.

As for the overall comments on the table it is a medium to fast speed, long table with lots of bells and whistles and great virtual presence. The gameplay is very addictive.

There’s a bit of concern that has been brought up in the silver ball community about backwards compatibility so you can play all the tables you collected on PFX3 on the Unreal Pinball FX, and it really doesn’t sound like that is going to happen. It does make sense to me since we are talking about the next generation for pinball games in UPFX, any game played on it is being rebuilt on Unreal Engine. At that point it is like another game, maybe even considering it as a GOTY or Remastering where you wouldn’t have a problem buying the new addition of the game and each table plays like a mini-game that has been remastered or rebuilt. And if you don’t get the Unreal version of your table you still have it on PFX3 then when you can afford it pick it up on UPFX.

On the subject of affording some of the newer games which aren’t on sale they might be considered a bit expensive whereas if you pick them up on sale they aren’t too bad. I had 220 tickets to spend ($19.99) and I got the Jaws table for 30 tickets leaving me plenty left to spend. Some tables purchased on Steam might find you paying $14.99 for example for the Indy table though you might find this competitively priced with the Pinball FX3 as well as the quality of experience of an Unreal Engine table. Also right now many of the tables are on sale for the UPFX to help offset the cost of building your new library.

The Unreal Engine was a terrific choice for the developers to build from and they put it to great use. Pinball FX: Indiana Jones The Pinball Adventure is a great game that lives up to the hype with crisp video quality and perfect physics. It’s got nice replayability with community events such as tournaments and free play days. Now I need to go play some more Jaws. We need a bigger boat!