Monday, April 08, 2019

Steel Division 2 Beta 2 Gameplay Preview

I'm playing the second beta of Steel Division 2, a real-time strategy game by Eugen Systems.

The game has moved the action to the Eastern Front of World War II. More customization options are available for battlegroups (choosing phase availability for each unit, and how unit recruitment points are allocated in each phase). Maps now feature capture points, the ownership of which is determined by the dynamic frontline, and defensive structures are available for the assault-heavy breakthrough mode. In addition, there are commander units that add experience to nearby units and leaders, and radio-equipped artillerists to assist indirect fire. The release version of the game will include 18 divisions to make battlegroups from, 25 maps, and a dynamic campaign. The game is scheduled for release on May 2nd.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

ISLANDERS Gameplay Review

I'm playing ISLANDERS, a city building strategy game by GrizzlyGames.

The game features procedurally generated islands where you must place complimentary buildings near each other. Appropriate buildings near each other earn points, which are used to level up and unlock another set of structures. Failure to accumulate enough points results in starting over with a new island. The difficulty results from limited space to place buildings, and having to decide which structures to place; the randomized islands give a lot of replay value and extend the life of the game beyond a one-time puzzle. ISLANDERS is a simple but challenging strategy game.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Tropico 6 Gameplay Review

I'm playing Tropico 6, a city management simulation by Limbic Entertainment and Kalypso Media.

This iteration of the series features missions with a set of mandatory and optional objectives, sandbox maps (including randomly generated ones), and cooperative and competitive multiplayer. The interface is improved, as the combination of map overlays and a comprehensive almanac makes finding information fairly straightforward and efficient. The quantity of buildings has been expanded, with many options available to provide housing, resource collection and processing, mass transit, citizen services like hospitals and churches, research, tourist destinations, and military outposts. Citizen detail is high, as individual walking paths are needs are tracked. Different political factions and foreign powers will frequently offer objectives to improve relations and earn a reward, giving you intermediate objectives, even in the sandbox mode. The broker offers missions to increase your Swiss bank account, the funds of which can be used to instantly research new buildings or provide other nefarious benefits like improved relations or ignoring ultimatums and demands. Research can be done to unlock new edicts to issue or alternate work modes, while the constitution sets country-wide policies. Raids from pirates or commandos can provide new citizens, loot, or annoy foreign countries, and specific trade routes can provide bonuses to income. While the brand new features (multi-island maps, raids, mass transit, revamped research and Swiss bank account usage) aren’t groundbreaking, this is the most refined Tropico experience available.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Warparty Gameplay Review

I'm playing Warparty, a real-time strategy game by Warcave and Crazy Monkey Studios.

The game features three campaigns, one for each of the slightly different stone-age factions, skirmishes against the AI on only eight maps, a survival mode, and online multiplayer. Worker units are used to collect food and crystal, used to recruit new units, build structures, or perform upgrades. Power is used primarily to cast a limited variety of spells (and, in the case of one faction, to recruit units). Wild dinosaurs can be hunted for food, or recruited by one of the factions. Faction-wide upgrades are given with battle experience, while settlement and unit upgrades can be researched with crystal. The skirmish AI provides an actual challenge (without cheating), as it is very efficient at collecting resources and will attack vulnerable positions. Warparty is a solid real-time strategy game that only really differentiates itself thanks to its setting, though it does feature above-average skirmish AI.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Production Line Gameplay Review

I'm playing Production Line, a car factory management simulation by Positech Games.

The game features varied map dimensions (plus a simple level editor) with sandbox (AI competition that will research new components), scenario (with objectives), and freeplay modes. Cars are made by progressing through production slots in a specific order; each station takes a different amount of time to complete, so minimizing waits will maximize efficiency and profits. Many research options are available: new car components, car body designs, and individualized production slots (to break up a single process into multiple steps) give you a ton of strategic options. In addition, parts and power can be produced in-house to increase profits, in addition to late-game marketing and varying your builds. While the basics of factory construction are the same every time, the sheer amount of research options and semi-random order in which AI competitors start using specific parts (so they are “expected” to be included in your vehicles) make the focus of each playthrough slightly different. Production Line is a satisfying management title with steadily increasing difficulty and complexity.