Monday, October 15, 2018

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Forza Horizon 4 Gameplay Review

I'm playing Forza Horizon 4, an open world racing simulation by Playground Games and Microsoft Studios.

The most noticeable new feature is week-long seasons as you venture around the United Kingdom. Multiplayer options are integrated into the game, offering team or competitive races with online players, clubs, and special events that occur every hour. Your in-game character gains money and experience with every race (even without winning), unlocking randomized prizes (like new clothing or cars) and additional events. The map is chock full of race options once you complete the introductory sequence: road racing, dirt racing, off-road cross-country events, street races, drag racing, and drifting. Races can be customized to adjust the race length and allow specific car types (such as hatchbacks, cars from the 70s, or a specific manufacturer). In addition to the races, speed traps, huge jumps, barns hiding classic cars, and signs to smash for bonuses also dot the landscape. The cars are plentiful and can be customized with skins, upgrades, tuning, horns, and license plates. Undesirable vehicles can be auctioned off to other players. The car handling is very forgivable and focused on tight racing with the capable AI; this is quite fine for an arcade racing title such as this, but those looking for a realistic simulation should look elsewhere. The graphics are top-notch and perform very well, though the engine sounds could be improved. Forza Horizon 4 is a fantastic open-world racing title thanks to its content-rich setting, multitude of customizable race types, large roster of cars, and easy-to-handle driving physics.

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Monday, October 01, 2018

ValeGuard Gameplay Review

I'm playing ValeGuard, a defensive strategy game by Lost Tower Games.

The game features a campaign that consists of a series of semi-random scenarios where you must construct defenses and and army to fend off enemies that will appear after a set period of time; once you lose, you have to start over from the beginning so there is only one saved game slot. Workers are assigned to collect resources, construct buildings, make weapons, or constitute your army. Town size can be increased by building houses with wells nearby, and food must be produced every four turns to support your population. Random events, such as merchants that will trade resources for gold and monsters that attack before the end of the scenario, mix things up mid-game. Combat is performed in real-time, where units are given move and attack orders and use special abilities. Units will attack nearby enemies to reduce micromanagement. The AI is basic but only needs to be in a defensive game. Ultimately, ValeGuard is a game of resource management, assigning the correct number of workers to collect and produce the right goods in order to have enough troops and defenses to fend off the final attack. While the mechanics are somewhat repetitive, there is flexibility regarding which weapons and resources to focus on. Overall, ValeGuard is an enjoyable defensive strategy game with a management slant.

Friday, September 21, 2018

NASCAR Heat 3 Gameplay Review

I'm playing NASCAR Heat 3, a racing simulation by Monster Games and 704 Games.

New features in this year’s version start with a dirt touring series that includes eight tracks (and a dirt road course). The career mode (which starts out in the new dirt series) adds the ability to be an owner/driver, allowing the player to hire staff and choose racing cars to perform research on. Online multiplayer adds tournaments, while the new Charlotte “roval” and Phoenix redesign are included. A racing line is provided to learn each track, but only in practice mode. Also, there are nine pre-made car setups for each track that range between “tight,” “balanced,” and “loose.” The short racing challenges round out the features. As in previous versions, NASCAR Heat 3 handles somewhere between an arcade game and a simulation, which strikes the balance the developers are looking for in a console-driven release. The cars are relatively easy to drive, and the AI is very aggressive and less idiotic as in last year’s game. The sound design is not great (the collision effect is especially weak) and the game still lacks game options during a race (like saving progress for later or seeing what the controls are). Still, NASCAR Heat 3 is an improvement over last year, and is slowly approaching a solid arcade-sim racing game overall.