Friday, July 21, 2017

Solar Settlers Gameplay Review

I'm playing Solar Settlers, a card-based space exploration strategy game by BrainGoodGames.

The goal is to colonize a randomized map within the eight turn limit. Colonists can explore new tiles around the map, collecting resources in a location once. Hydrogen is used to move, oxygen to keep colonists alive between turns, and metal to build stuff. Locations can also be developed using cards, which will grant new abilities (such as different resources, a production ability at the end of each turn, increased military value to allow for exploration further out, or habitat space). There is definitely strategy involved on where to move, when to move, which order to move in, which cards to use, which resources to spend,  which tiles to develop, and how to settle the system (focusing on the interior or expanding outward). Solar Settlers is an intriguing turn-based strategy game that is challenging, features randomized maps, and allows for layered strategies to attain victory.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Behold the Kickmen Gameplay Review

I'm playing Behold the Kickmen, an arcade sports game by Size Five Games.

The game features a career mode (where all the team names end in “United”) where you spend money, earned by scoring goals after making passes and tackles, on team-wide upgrades in skill. Quick custom games against the AI are also possible, though there is no multiplayer. Controls are performed better with a gamepad. Players move significantly slower with the ball, placing an emphasis on passing (though players can sprint for a limited time). Both kicks and tackles can be aimed, and tapping the tackle button again when near the ball will take possession. Dashing left or right is also available, though you are not able to manually switch players (which makes the game more challenging and exciting overall). This is not a serious depiction of the sport: there are no throw-ins, goalies barely get in the way, you score more points by kicking further out, extra time is added by running over clocks scattered on the field, and offsides penalties are given randomly (well, that part is realistic). The AI is just good enough to provide a decent opponent while adhering to the silly nature of the game. Although Behold the Kickmen is not the best arcade soccer game available, it does offer good gameplay mechanics befitting of its casual approach to the sport.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Gettysburg: The Tide Turns Gameplay Review

I'm playing Gettysburg: The Tide Turns, a turn-based strategy game by Shenandoah Studio and Slitherine.

The game features scenarios covering the entire three-day battle, each day individually, the intense fighting of the second day, and Pickett’s Charge. The Confederates must capture locations on top of Cemetery Ridge, while the Union must inflict more casualties. The battles can be fought against the usually capable AI (the computer opponent does sometimes move unnecessarily as a defender), locally against another player, or online using Slitherine’s nifty play-by-e-mail system. The interface has a stylish map, and makes it fairly easy to find units. Each turn represents an hour, and units are activated for movement in a completely random order each turn. In addition, combat happens randomly as well (although the side with initiative can cause combat to happen anytime they wish), which adds a layer of uncertainty to the game that is not found in more traditional I-go-you-go wargames. Units include infantry, cavalry, and artillery units in their historical orders of battle. Consolidating large units together, the game never feels unwieldy to control and is appropriate for all experience levels. Combat consists of several phases (cavalry screening, artillery bombardment, attacking withdrawal, firing, retreat, and pursuit); splitting fire between two adjacent targets reduces the effectiveness of an attacking unit, and this is a good abstraction of the effectiveness of flanking maneuvers. Units lose strength when attacked (denoted by easy-to-see icons for each unit), and are removed from the game when depleted.Thanks to the approachable nature of the game and the unpredictability of the randomized turn order, Gettysburg: The Tide Turns is an entertaining turn-based strategy game.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Megacity Builder Gameplay Review

I'm playing Megacity Builder, a city building simulation by Andrew Rowe.

The game features a campaign mode where you manage a nation by constructing cities (each on its own randomly generated maps) that produce different goods; single map games and scripted scenarios are also available. The interface is very laborious: it doesn’t keep the last action selected (which makes placing repetitive things, especially roads and power lines, annoying), it is difficult to de-select things if you select them accidentally (there is no keyboard shortcut, just a build menu button), left-click is used to both place objects and scroll the map leading to lots of mistakes and heavy use of the “undo” button, it is hard to precisely place objects using the mouse pointer, there is no clock to keep track of time for budgetary reasons, and the full-screen budget immediately interrupts what you are doing. Most of the game is typical for a city builder: place residential and commercial areas, connect the road, water, and power lines, and construct services like police, fire, gyms, pools, and schools. There is no traffic simulation in the game, but you can export goods produced in each town for a profit, which gives another source of income and goes beyond simply making industries for jobs. Megacity Builder has some interesting ideas with manufacturing, trade, and having multiple cities to control that work together, but it is severely held back by its awkward interface.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Dead Purge: Outbreak Gameplay Review

I'm playing Dead Purge: Outbreak, a first-person shooter by Microlith Games.

The game contains three maps (with some time-of-day variations) that are small and consist of narrow pathways that make it far too easy to funnel zombies in a line. The difficulty and game length (using the same number of waves as Killing Floor 2, though without the boss) can be adjusted. The is no multiplayer available. The weapon variety is very limited, and there are no classes for special abilities. Researched upgrades can be done between games to improve accuracy and health. Health packs are useful to heal, and grenades are very powerful against the groups of zombies. There are only two enemy types in the game (walking, and crawling on the ground), and zombies can be easily lead into certain death by sprinting back and forth down the same straight path and then aiming for the head. Bullet time is stolen directly from Killing Floor 2, and the gore is not as convincing. Dead Purge: Outbreak is a direct clone of Killing Floor 2 that is worse in every area and doesn’t offer anything new or different.