Friday, December 08, 2017

SpellForce 3 Gameplay Review

I'm playing SpellForce 3, a role-playing real-time strategy game by Grimlore Games and THQ Nordic.



The game features a decent campaign with scenarios set in very detailed locations. The skirmish mode and online multiplayer both only have six maps and three races with very slight differences in build order. The interface comes with some handy features, like a larger mini-map that displays resource locations in each sector and single hotkeys used to cast spells from each hero. Resources (wood, food, stone, iron) are automatically gathered from the environment by workers assigned to a particular building; managing the limited number of workers at each building is part of the economic strategy. Upgrading the city or outpost will unlock the next tier of structures and increase the worker population. New map sectors can be captured after eliminating the creeps contained therein; while new sectors can expand resource production, items must be physically transported from one outpost to another (all done automatically), so you can destroy caravans of other factions. Heroes cast spells, gain experience through combat to unlock new spells, and have an inventory to increase stats. Regular units contain the usual assortment of infantry, cavalry, and ranged options. Units die quickly, which gives less time to use spells during combat. There is also a lot of grind at the end of games to eliminate bases, as defenses are cheap and very effective against smaller number of units. Still, SpellForce 3 has some good ideas in the economic side of the game with worker allocation and resource acquisition that, along with the occasional role-playing feature, make it stand out in the real-time strategy genre.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Harvest Life Gameplay Review

I'm playing Harvest Life, a farm management simulation by bumblebee and rokapublish.



Starting with the same farm every game, the tutorial only explains how to chop wood. There is also no manual or other in-game help or documentation, so almost all in-game tasks are left unexplained. The graphics are very rudimentary, and annoying collisions with nearby objects occur often. A limited interface (using left-click and right-click to interact with everything) leads to a lot of input confusion (feeding the cat instead of planting crops). Harvest Life only has a few repetitive tasks: cut wood and chop it during a bland mini-game, deal with crops by planting, watering, and harvesting, feed and provide water to animals while collecting their eggs and poop, and fish if you can figure out how to acquire a rod. Items can be sold (no price fluctuations) and the money used to edit the farm by placing new tiles and animals. There is a significant amount of waiting for something to happen, as there simply isn’t a lot to do. Harvest Life is an extremely repetitive, limited, boring, and confusing farming game.

Monday, November 27, 2017

Dominions 5: Warriors of the Faith Gameplay Review

I'm playing Dominions 5: Warriors of the Faith, a turn-based strategy game by Illwinter Game Design.



The venerable series returns with upgrades in several areas. First, bless effects are available when setting up your pretender god. The random map generator has been improved, and the graphics for the map and interface are much clearer, upgraded for higher-resolution displays. Recruitment points are now required for obtaining units (in addition to money and resources). The non-interactive combat is now “real-time”, where simultaneous actions (like moving and shooting) can occur at the same time. The fantastic core gameplay remains: choose one of the many nations, design your pretender god, expand by attacking surrounding provinces containing magic sites, defend new territories with a garrison to keep unrest low, build forts to collect nearby resources, spread dominion with temples and preaching, construct labs to research new spells, cast local and global rituals, recruit new units and hire mercenaries, set up army formations and battle orders, equip leaders with magical items, watch automated battles, and try to survive against the very capable AI. Much like its predecessor, Dominions 5 is more like an incremental upgrade, but overall it is a fantastic, feature-filled strategy game.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

American Truck Simulator: New Mexico Gameplay Review

I'm playing American Truck Simulator: New Mexico, a driving and management simulation by SCS Software.



The first paid expansion for the game, the game now includes an entire new state to drive through, including very accurate expressway interchanges and a variety of truck stops. In addition, there are new roadside events (construction, wrecks, cops pulling people over) to gawk at during a drive through the Land of Enchantment. New Mexico in American Truck Simulation has a high level of detail and expands the game well.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Mare Nostrvm Gameplay Review

I'm playing Mare Nostrvm, a turn-based naval strategy game by Turnopia and Slitherine.



The game features twenty-four historic battles scattered across nine campaigns; victory is (thankfully) not required in order to advance to the next mission. Skirmish battles are also available against the AI, and online multiplayer utilizes Slitherine’s PBEM system. The interface badly needs a “next unit” button to find ships that can be issued orders in large, chaotic battles. Fourteen ship types can be equipped with a variety of weapons for firing upon and boarding the enemy. Ships must be near their commander to receive orders, requiring some organization during each conflict. Movement orders are placed on the map, along with choosing to ram or grapple and board the enemy ships (the decision of which should be based on the attributes and orientations of the ships involved). Ships will automatically fire on nearby enemies. The AI is skilled at the game, providing a competent opponent. Though repetitive and lacking some interface features, Mare Nostrvm is effective at displaying the chaos of ancient naval battles.