Monday, February 08, 2016

American Truck Simulator Gameplay Review

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

The game currently features two states (California and Nevada), with Arizona added for free later and additional states as DLC. Only two truck models are initially available, although more are coming in the future as well. The game is largely the same as Euro Truck 2: transporting goods through one-off contracts or running a company, hiring other drivers to earn additional money, and expanding the enterprise over time. Experience earned while driving can be spent to unlock the ability to transport more precious cargo further distances. The interface and overall driving experience is essentially identical; that said, American Truck Simulator is just as enjoyable and hypnotic as its predecessor. Although the game is more like an extensive modification than a full sequel, it is priced appropriately and fans of Euro Truck 2 will feel right at home on the roads of California and Nevada.

Monday, February 01, 2016

10 Minute Barbarian Gameplay Review

I'm playing 10 Minute Barbarian, a turn-based strategy game by Studio Puffer.

The goal is to capture as many castles and villages before the demon apocalypse, which allows for maximum army recruitment when fighting the forces of evil. One death is allowed per randomized map. Units include peasants, knights, archers, cavalry, and larger special units; population caps can be upgraded using gold. The mostly automated battles do allow for limited interaction, like placing dragon attacks or giving orders to cavalry units. The games are quick and there is strategy in deciding where to reinforce next, giving 10 Minute Barbarian a light strategic feel.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak Gameplay Review

I'm playing Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak, a real-time strategy game by Blackbird Interactive and Gearbox Software.

Serving as a prequel to the space-based Homeworld games, Deserts of Kharak features a fairly short campaign with mostly unskippable cutscenes where units carry over between missions. Limited skirmish and multiplayer modes only feature five maps for up to six players. The interface adapts the overview sensors manager, but has sluggish camera controls. The game also lacks repeating queues and tool-tips are slow to appear, although the game does indicate which enemy units are being engaged. Resources are used to produce units and unlock more advanced versions. A simple countering system is present, with strike, armored, ranged, missile, and air units each being effective against one other kind. The game does reward attacking from higher terrain and experienced units receive bonuses. While Homeworld: Deserts of Kharak is a potentially interesting adaptation of 3D space combat to a desert setting, the limited features, interface, and strategy prevents it from making a complete transition.

Monday, January 18, 2016

Draft Day Sports: Pro Football 2016 Gameplay Review

I'm playing Draft Day Sports: Pro Football 2016, a sports management game by Wolverine Studios.

The game supports both local and online leagues, with historical rosters available back to 1920 (although NFL league formats aren’t complete to accompany them correctly) and various rules for league format and finances. The usual options found in management games are available: free agency, draft, training regiment, and roster management. Adjusting the depth chart is tedious, as the same basic lineup can’t be copied for multiple formations. While strategic options are available to adjust run/pass percentage and preferred formation for different downs and distances, there is no play design. Game simulations are generally realistic, although there is no interaction at all during a game. In the end, Draft Day Sports: Pro Football 2016 is just an average sports management game with no outstanding features.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Tharsis Gameplay Review

I'm playing Tharsis, a turn-based survival strategy game by Choice Provisions.

The objective: get to Mars. The crew must scramble each turn to repair rooms and counteract ship damage and other negative events. Each room can provide different bonuses, from food production to ship repair and health increases. Each crew member has a class that determines their special ability, health, stress level (higher stress makes for worse decision choices), and dice supply (replenished with food). Dice are rolled in each repair event, used to simply repair the calamity, activate the crew member’s class ability or room module ability, or undertake research projects for instant benefits. Each repair mission can have hazards that will cause crew damage, locked dice, or lost dice if specific numbers are rolled; hazards can be automatically countered with assists. Tharsis excels in crisis prioritization: there are never enough crew to do everything, and placing the right combination of crew in the right rooms in the right order produces intriguing strategy. An interesting setting and compelling strategy makes Tharsis a distinctive, albeit very challenging, survival game.