Game Review: Civilization: Beyond Earth


Civilization Beyond earthOn October 24th, 2014, the world received one of the most highly anticipated Civilization games of all time – Beyond Earth. A Sci-Fi take/spin on that classic and storied Civilization franchise.  From its announcement, to now, the correlations and expectations compared to Alpha Centauri has been made left, right, and center.  In looking at the mods available for Beyond Earth since its release, many mods include factions from Alpha Centauri.  But before we get into the Alpha Centauri vs. Beyond Earth comparisons, let us look strictly at Beyond Earth.

Civilization Beyond Earth Late GameBeyond Earth runs on the same engine as Civilization V.  That should be widely apparent based off any game screenshots, let’s plays, and other means.  And that isn’t to say that is a bad thing.  Civilization V got a lot of things right, and it looks stunning.  It has power in all the right places, and features the Civilization franchise hasn’t seen.  Beyond Earth takes place “some time in the future”. The team behind Beyond Earth did not want to root the game in story, or limit the open ended-ness of the future.  Like in any Civ game, you pick a “Civ”, or in this game, a sponsor, along with other features, and you attempt to found humanity on an alien planet.  You do this through the typical city builder, army builder, turn based game we have loved over the years.  While you collaborate with and against other factions on the planet, you also have to survive against aliens, and navigating through and around the planetscape, including “miasma” – a poisonous gas that damages your units.

All things considered, Beyond Earth is a solid game.  But that is primarily because it is rooted in Civilization V, which was a solid game as well.  For fans of Civ V, I hands down recommend Beyond Earth.  It is a new take on the hundreds, if not thousands, of hours dumped into Civ V.  However, if you are tired of Civ V, or need a break, than Beyond Earth may not be for you.  Those of you looking for a re-hashed, re-skinned Alpha Centauri may be disappointed, however.

Civilization Beyond Earth Game SetupBeyond Earth, as widely touted, is the spiritual successor to Alpha Centauri.  It isn’t Alpha Centauri 2.  The two games play differently, even though conceptually they are very similar.  The disconnect some may have with Beyond Earth versus many other games in the Civilization series, and/or with Alpha Centauri, is the fact that Beyond Earth has very little lore and definition.  It was intended on being something like a Create-Your-Own-Adventure type game.  But this strength is also its weakness.  Before, we always knew that the Spartan Federation will always be a militaristic faction, and that Gaia’s Stepdaughters will try to harmonize with the planet, etc. etc.  Now, there are very few constants in Beyond Earth.  Brasilia, with its militaristic bonus, isn’t always a warmonger.  A fan favorite in Civilization is to be funny and ironic.  What isn’t to love about Gandhi hoarding dozens, if not hundreds, of nuclear missiles?  That irony doesn’t exist in Beyond Earth since there’s no context behind the sponsors, the leaders, and the factions.  And that is okay.

My one gripe with Beyond Earth was that it didn’t carry over any sort of unit concept like Alpha Centauri had.  You have a very limited amount of units in game.  And though there are a few upgrades for them, there is no system such as a create-your-own-unit like in Alpha Centauri.  Instead of researching chassis, armor types, weapon types, etc., you are stuck with a few type of units with no personal way to change them per your own design.  For me, that ability to create variety was paramount for my Alpha Centauri experience.

Beyond Earth is not like any other Civ game out there.  If you need that historical or background context, Beyond Earth isn’t exactly for you.  However, if you want to conquer a random planet in space under your own story that you create upon launching, Beyond Earth is perfect for you.  It is a good game worth looking into.  If you still aren’t convinced, spend a little time and watch this game review that expresses things I tried to capture in this review.

TBD Fest Preview


tbd-fest-2014-1557452-regularComing on October 3rd, 4th, and 5th, Sacramento will be sonically assaulted by the biggest musical festival the 916 has yet to see.  From the makers of the Launch Festival comes to newly re-branded TBD Fest!

The Launch crew is seven years deep in experience with providing Sacramento with their SXSW-inspired festival.  For a number of years, Launch was a one day ordeal.  In 2012, Launch expanded into a two-day extravaganza.  Last year, Launch was a two-day party at Cesar Chavez Park, with a pre-party being held the Friday before at Ace of Spades.  Those three days last year was probably the most fun, enhancing, and artistically filled days of my life on the best coast.  Last saw headlining acts of Wallpaper on Friday at the pre-Launch Party at Ace of Spades, and Girl Talk and Imagine Dragons on Saturday and Sunday night at Cesar Chavez Park in Downtown Sacramento.   [Read more…]

DJ Mappquest Interviews Zion I (Again) – January 30th, 2014


So last week I got to see Zion I perform in Sacramento at Assembly.  This comes a year and four months removed from their last visit through, on the ShadowBoxing tour.  After the show I met up with Zumbi and Amplive to ask them a few questions.  NOTE: This is not a verbatim of what they said.  You can listen to the attached copy to hear exactly what was said.  This was slightly edited for it to “make sense”.  The audio is not edited, but it is there in case you want to listen to it.

zumbi-at-assemblyJosh Alvarez Mapp: So how do you feel the reception for ShadowBoxing was?
Zumbi: I think it was good man.  It opened us up to a different fan base.  Took us deeper into the EDM scene a bit.  I think honestly it turned off some hip hop cats because they don’t necessarily mess with that so they left it alone, but it opened us up to EDM which is what happens when you try different stuff, it’s back and forth – it is what it is. [Read more…]

Is Blogging the Curator of Hip Hop?


In attending SXSW ’13, I was able to do many things, including listening to two panels.  One of those two panels was questioning whether blogging is the curator of hip hop today.  People asked questions to the panel which included Nick Huff from Hard Knock TV, Elliott Wilson, CEO of Rap Radar, B Dot from Rap Radar, Ashley Outrageous from Ashleyoutrageous.com, and Steve Raze from AllHipHop.com.

When we ask, is blogging the curator of hip hop, you have to keep in mind a few things.  For example, this panel was assembled to discuss a topic that doesnt get much respect or attention.  In mainstream thought, people dont say that thanks to AllHipHop.com or Ashleyoutrageous.com that Macklemore is getting big or that Wale and Wiz Khalifa got big. (Obviously blogs were not the 100% reason they did get famous but blogs were significant factors for their success, or so the panelists claim.  I’m not the expert on their rise to fame, the bloggers are).  You also must remember how hip hop is curated currently or previously?  The most consistent curator for hip hop has been the radio stations.  As they panelists asserted, radio stations would get records/tracks long before they were available for purchase by the general public.  Thus they held the chips on reviewing artists and their songs, and promoting (or not promoting) said songs/albums. [Read more…]

Sac Burger Battle Review


On Tuesday, September 18th, Sacramento saw its first ever Burger Battle.  It was a vicioius cook off of epic culinary arts between de Vere’s Irish Pub, Restaurant Thir13en, The Eatery, Kupros Bistro, Delta King, The Chef’s Table, Michelangelo’s Restaurant, Grange Restaurant and Bar, The Porch, The Golden Bear, The Squeeze Inn, Ettore’s Bakery and Restaurant, Flaming Grill Cafe, Shady Lady Saloon, and Krush Burger.  With all those names, plus more, there was much to consume on this evening.  For my part, I consumed all I could.

The atmosphere was great.  A burger battle at a baseball field is an American-ly awesome as it gets.  To top it off, Hero’s Last Mission, a Sacramento local hot band, provided various sets throughout the evening.  And just when you thought it couldn’t get better, there were various drinks all around to be had. [Read more…]

Music Review: Norah Jones “Little Broken Hearts”


Music Review: Norah Jones “Little Broken Hearts”
By: Josue “Josh” Alvarez Mapp (a.k.a. DJ Mappquest)

So it has been a long time since I have sat down and listened to Norah Jones.  I kind of got disconnected from her music as I focused on music for parties instead of balancing music for myself too.  The last time I had her her was in 2004 when she releasedFeels Like Home, which was her sophomore solo album.

Seriously, my iPod collection of Norah Jones contained just a few old songs from her like “In The Morning,” “Be Here to Love Me,” and “The Prettiest Thing.”  Of course I also had stuff off her freshman album Come Away With Me, which came in 2002.  Of course you have to have “Don’t Know Why,” “Come Away With Me,” “Turn Me On,” and “Nightingale.”  And actually, “Don’t Know Why” popped up on shuffle the last few weeks and it made me wonder if she had any new music since last I heard. [Read more…]

Review of the Nike NFL Uniforms 2012


Review of the Nike NFL Uniforms 2012
By: Josue “Josh” Alvarez Mapp (a.k.a. DJ Mappquest)

So I knew Nike was going to be taking over Reebok’s job in jersey production for the NFL.  I also new this would mean the release of new Nike apparel over Reebok.  You can even tell the hostilities when Reebok tried to sell New York Jets Tim Tebow jerseys and got sued.  So it was no secret.  The only secret was how were they going to look?

These are not the uniforms you are looking for.

I saw leak images over the internet for a few weeks now.  [Read more…]

The Second Coming


The Second Coming: Boy Bands in the Recent Music Era
By: Josue “Josh” Alvarez Mapp (a.k.a. DJ Mappquest)

“Back in the day” even though those days weren’t so long ago, I remember all the girls when I was in middle school and high school talking about N’Sync (pictured left), as well as the Backstreet Boys, 98 Degrees, and O-Town.  For those who were asleep in the late 90’s and early years of the new millennium, these groups are what is called “boy bands.”  When I say every girl was talking about them, I really don’t mean that, but when so many people in so many classes were talking about them, it almost seems like every girl was.  The reason these names may sound distant and unknown is because these groups don’t have the same clout they use to.  N’Sync broke up and Justin Timberlake decided to do his own thing.  Many laughed and thought he was crazy but he made it happen.  The Backstreet Boys did tour last year alongside New Kids on the Block (another “boy band”) but “boys” could hardly describe who they are now. [Read more…]

Are You Siri-us?!


Are You Siri-us?!
An Analysis from a non-expert fanboy on the iPhone 4S
BY: Josue “Josh” Alvarez Mapp (a.k.a. DJ Mappquest) 

For those who don’t know, which I’m not sure where you have been, but it must be a great resort, Apple had a conference on October 4th, 2011, unveiling various stuff, and recapping other stuff – all Apple gadgetry.

This was the biggest hyped conference so far since the rumors were as big as California, or even the Steve Jobs legacy.   Possible TWO iPhones released in ONE event.  All sorts of rumors on design looks, iPhone 5 cases that were “shipped”, people hacking into factories for details and stuff.  It was huge. [Read more…]

Music Review – David Guetta “Nothing But the Beat”


Music Review – David Guetta “Nothing But the Beat”
By: Josue “Josh” Alvarez Mapp

Where them girls at?  Nah, where’s that David Guetta at?!  If you are behind on the news, David Guetta just released his latest CD, “Nothing But the Beat” at the end of this August 2011.  Still haven’t gotten it yet?  Not sure if you should get it?  Well let me tell you about it. [Read more…]