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.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Command: Shifting Sands Gameplay Review

I'm playing Command: Shifting Sands, a real-time military strategy game by Warfare Sims and Slitherine.

The game functions as either an expansion to the original game that was released in 2013 or a standalone title, albeit without the ability to use the editor or enjoy the plentiful scenarios from Steam Workshop. Shifting Sands includes 17 scenarios of varying difficulties and complexities set in the Middle East, most of which are well designed with variety and surprises, and crafted a notch above the typical user-made mission. Command: Shifting Sands serves as a good introduction to the game mechanics of the series if you don’t feel like spending the exorbitant price on the entire game (though you probably should anyway).

Friday, October 27, 2017

Battlevoid: Sector Siege Gameplay Review

I'm playing Battlevoid: Sector Siege, a real-time strategy game by Bugbyte .

The games features a campaign mode with connected scenarios on randomly generated maps, but none of the researched upgrades or ship designs carry over from mission to mission, so it’s really just a series of skirmishes. There is cross-platform play where you can save and continue on another device, which is a nice feature. Before each mission, the crew composition can be set, which determines research rates, population caps, and build speeds. The interface is clearly designed for a mobile device, with inconsistent tool-tips and a lack of useful information: for example, the game should indicate when units have all weapon slots filled when in building mode, and it should more clearly display how often a component has been upgraded. Each map is covered with plentiful capture points that provide cash (to purchase things) and upgrade points (for upgrades), but scouting is tedious because ships move very, very slowly. Ships and defenses can be purchased, and all must be customized with weapons and other items like drones and defenses; designs can be saved for use later in the same scenario. In addition, there are researched upgrades that are applied to all ships, and specific upgrades for each component that can be added to a ship. Having both of these options is confusing and unnecessary, as choosing one or the other (I prefer the research route) would have sufficed. Units will auto-attack nearby enemies, but can be instructed to focus on specific subsystems. Enemy ships can also be boarded. Every mission lasts too long due to the slow speed of the ships and the high number of enemy units. Because of the pacing issues, interface shortcomings, perplexing research options, and lack of campaign continuity, Battlevoid: Sector Siege is not a successful adaptation of the series to the real-time strategy genre.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Real Farm Gameplay Review

I'm playing Real Farm, an agricultural simulation by Triangle Studios and SOEDESCO Publishing.

The single-player-only game features a career mode with a simple tutorial and a free play mode where you start out with basic equipment. The interface is terrible across the board: the camera is erratic, the mouse sensitivity cannot be adjusted, the keyboard controls cannot be changed and there is not a list of even what they are (only gamepad controls are listed in the options screen), the map is too small, and it can be difficult to get into equipment. While the equipment have good models, the graphics feature poor road textures at a distance and graphical glitches like glowing lines spanning across fields. The game world is small, with only occasional cars and nobody else working the fields (including workers you can hire). Gameplay consists of driving across the same fields over and over again using different attachments to plow, cultivate, sow, fertilize, water, and harvest crops. You can raise animals, but this offers only a small amount of variety. You can also take jobs at other farms, but they are the same jobs available otherwise. Vehicle handling is poor: every vehicle accelerates and brakes at the same rate, and getting stuck on small objects is too easy. Real Farm doesn’t offer anything new or different, and what it does offer is significantly worse than the competition.