Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Lethis - Path of Progress Gameplay Review

I'm playing Lethis - Path of Progress, a city building simulation by Triskell Interactive.

Featuring a campaign with twenty-six very challenging missions (that cannot be skipped over) and a sandbox mode lacking custom and randomized maps, Lethis - Path of Progress takes the city builder to a steampunk Victorian age. The interface is very basic, with some overlays for map-based data; the game doesn’t tell you which types of buildings have collapsed, which is extremely frustrating. A good variety of different structures can be placed: housing, food, industry, storage, services, and decorations. However, a number of problems inhibit the gameplay. First, idiotic randomized worker movement make buildings much less efficient. Secondly, buildings collapse far too often (even with a maintenance shed close by). This will crash the town economy exponentially: less workers means less services, then more workers leave (due to a decrease in services) causing even less services, and so on. Lethis - Path of Progress is a promising city builder ruined by ignorant AI workers and a turbulent economy.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Star Hammer: The Vanguard Prophecy Gameplay Review

I'm playing Star Hammer: The Vanguard Prophecy, a turn-based tactical space strategy game by Black Lab Games and Slitherine.

A mostly linear, repetitive campaign unlocks missions based on an aggressive or defensive method of beating scenarios; crew skill ratings also improve over time. Custom or randomized skirmish games are also available, but online play is not. The interface provides decent access to the entire armada, from small corvettes to huge dreadnoughts. Movement orders are simple to issue, and vessels can also be moved vertically incrementally. Ships with automatically target the closest enemy within a targeting arc, or specific antagonists can be targeted for slightly more accurate aiming. Energy can be distributed between the engines, shields, and weapons, while shield energy balancing can be adjusted for each side of the ship, a feature I really like. Still, the game could use one or two more things to do to spice up the battles. Capable AI rounds out the package. Despite some assorted shortcomings, Star Hammer: The Vanguard Prophecy is one of the better tactical games available.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Galactic Inheritors Gameplay Review

I'm playing Galactic Inheritors, a turn-based 4X space strategy game by Crispon Games and Argonauts Interactive.

The single-player title has limited options when setting up a new game. The interface is not great, with several information displays that take up the entire screen. Exploration is a multi-turn process: move, explore, survey for resources. Jumpgate movement means the next system is always one turn away. Entire solar systems are colonized at once, and every system is colonizable without penalty (only starting production and resource values differ). Private businesses are contracted to build military vessels; ship upgrades can be applied as experience is earned. Exploration ships can be used to exploit resources in systems after they are finished exploring, an interesting use for them. Excess commerce is used to unlock empire-wide bonuses, while a deficit in money is borrowed against the research rate. Diplomacy is accomplished by undertaking positive or negative media campaigns against the other races, a slow, gradual process. War is always the end result, and combat is automated. It can take a long time for something to happen, which is less of a problem in a turn-based game but still notable. Despite a couple of novel features, the substandard interface and glacial pace of Galactic Inheritors hinder its appeal.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Primal Carnage: Extinction Gameplay Review

I'm playing Primal Carnage: Extinction, a first-person shooter by Pub Games and Circle 5 Studios.

The online-only game features team deathmatch, an objective mode, cooperative play against the dinosaurs, and free roam. Five human classes come equipped differently: shotguns and flares for the pathfinder, a sniper rifle and sensor mines for the scientist, the assault-rifle wielding commando, a flamethrower unit (my personal favorite), and a trapper with a netgun. Likewise, the dinosaurs are large, pouncers, flyers, spitters, or chargers. Both sets of classes are seemingly well-balanced and encourage teamwork. However, combat isn’t entirely engaging and the finicky nature of aiming (especially with the dinosaurs) wears thin. While Primal Carnage: Extinction is not a bad remake of the original game, it doesn’t elevate the genre beyond “a shooter with dinosaurs”.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Scourge of War: Waterloo Gameplay Review

I'm playing Scourge of War: Waterloo, a real-time tactical strategy game by NorbSoftDev and Matrix Games.

Ten historically-based scenarios are present for each side, allowing the user to control brigades up to the entire army. Both the campaign (where units are moved between towns and battles are resolved) and skirmish modes feel incomplete and unbalanced, though multiplayer is available. The redesigned interface incorporates a nifty right-click menu for issuing orders, but the icons in the information bar are a mess: the difference between buttons and status icons should be more verbose. Realism can be adjusted, integrating the use of couriers to deliver orders on horseback if desired. The AI is problematic: it routinely overrides your orders with major adjustments that ruin any sort of strategic cohesion. While units can be directly controlled, this is a logistical nightmare in larger scenarios. Scourge of War: Waterloo, thanks to half-baked skirmish and campaign modes and the domineering AI, is a very disappointing sequel.