Monday, January 14, 2019

Chieftain Gameplay Review

I'm playing Chieftain, a 4X strategy game by Splout Ltd..

Utilizing randomly generated terrain, the game is turn-based on the map with real-time battles. Different races give varied bonuses and drawbacks. Resources can only be collected in specific tile types: gold from towns and villages (which can only be founded on fields or plains), food from farms (again, only on fields or plains), wood from lumberyards (only on forest), and iron from mines (each nation start with one mine and there are no neutral locations to capture). Builders can construct new farms and lumberyards, while settlers establish villages. An army can consist of five different units (each unit is a group of 30 individuals). There is only one unit allowed per hex, which means you can block opponents from accessing parts of the map (and vice versa). Units cannot be told to guard their location and skip every turn until attacked. The real-time battles have some minor adjustments in stance and formation, but usually just involve moving towards the enemy. Diplomatic options are extremely basic (just declare war or sign treaties). Because you cannot change the terrain (turn forests into plains, for example) or trade resources, success in Chieftain is primarily determined by the luck of the map generator instead of skill. Because all nations start in very close proximity to each other, the number of available tiles to scavenge is very low, meaning you will likely be short one or two resources and can’t do anything about it other than invade adjacent nations and hope your army is superior. Due to the rigid nature of the map tiles, Chieftain lacks the flexibility to allow the strategy to overcome the luck of starting positions.

Monday, January 07, 2019

Medieval Kingdom Wars Gameplay Review

I'm playing Medieval Kingdom Wars, a real-time grand strategy game by Reverie World Studios.

The game features a campaign mode where you select a lord from one of the European countries during the Middle Ages. In addition, there is an online skirmish battle mode and a story-based tutorial. On the map of Europe, you will expand your lord’s territory by attacking nearby hostile factions. Units can be recruited from your various villages; towns can contain a number of upgradable buildings that produce resources or units. Income is earned from both taxes and buildings, and structures can be built by using silver from the main map screen or resources collected in the city screen. Trade goods produced in each town can be used to conduct research and unlock new abilities, while simple diplomatic options to increase or decrease relations are available. Battles are played out in real-time, involving up to 30 units (a single unit can be one peice of siege equipment or a large group of infantry). Additional units can be constructed by building new structures (if they aren’t already present, or if you are storming an enemy town) and paid for by resources collected from the surrounding area. Each unit can have a researched special ability with a variety of formations and stances. Combat relies on countering unit types (blunt weapons for heavily armored opponents, slashing or piercing weapons for light armor) and constructing walls to keep invaders at bay, although wall construction is completely automated once the command is given. The AI is generally effective at using appropriate units and attacking weak points in defenses. Medieval Kingdom Wars is a mostly effective mix of chaotic real-time strategy battles and grand strategy, serving as a streamlined combination of both genres.

Wednesday, January 02, 2019

Inclement Gameplay Review

I'm playing Inclement, a farm management strategy game by Killed Pixel Games.

Operating a farm in northern Europe in the 1800’s, the side-scrolling game features retro graphics with a hard-to-read font. Each area on the farm can be selected to clear, plant fields, or construct buildings; these produce more or better grain, raise animals, or produce oil. Buildings can also be upgraded to increase their abilities. Grain is sold through town, where additional workers are hired. The game features very small profit margins, which results in a fairly static build order in order to turn a profit. The difficulty comes from figuring out which buildings need to be placed before expanding to the next level (such as hiring an additional worker) in order to not go bankrupt. Because of the inflexible “correct” build order, Inclement is enjoyable for really only one successful playthrough, but it does offer some fun, light management gameplay.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Insurgency: Sandstorm Gameplay Review

I'm playing Insurgency: Sandstorm, a first-person shooter by New World Interactive and Focus Home Interactive.

Primarily designed with consoles in mind, this new version of the game does offer some new features for PC gamers. More classes (with more weapons) are available, including a commander who can call in strikes (artillery, helicopter) with the help of an observer. Maps are wider with more paths to objectives, and rare vehicles are also available. Finally, there is character appearance customization, more lines of voice dialogue, and improved graphics. The qualities that made the original Insurgency great are intact: objective-based game modes, lack of persistent unlocks, one- or two-shot kills, and no aiming crosshairs. The AI isn’t fantastic but superior numbers make them challenging. While Insurgency: Sandstorm is undoubtedly improved from the first game, the relatively minor changes make this not quite an instant buy, but still a very compelling first-person shooter.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Age of Civilizations II Gameplay Review

I'm playing Age of Civilizations II, a turn-based grand strategy game by Ɓukasz Jakowski.

The game lets you control any nation starting in 1440, though the starting options can be customized. The interface features a lot of map modes, but they are difficult to scroll through and movement orders can be issued by mistake. Movement points limit the number of actions per turn, though this only becomes an issue with very large empires. Units can be recruited and moved, while buildings are placed to increase growth and research rates. The budget can be adjusted to produce more taxes, production income, or population growth. Research points are used to provide a bonus in several areas (population growth, administrative overhead, military upkeep) and unlock better buildings. Diplomatic options with other nations are standard (alliances, defensive pacts, sending insults or improving relations), and the AI is decent enough. Age of Civilizations II is more approachable than the Europa Universalis series, but its relative simplicity means there is less to do during times of peace as you wait for research to complete.