Monday, March 13, 2017

Reflex Gameplay Review

I'm playing Reflex, a first-person shooter by Turbo Pixel Studios.

The game takes its inspiration from Quake, offering multiple game modes (1v1, 2v2, free-for-all, team deathmatch, capture the flag), mutators from Unreal Tournament (instagib, unlimited ammo, melee only), automatic map downloads through Steam Workshop, and matchmaking and a server browser. The fast-paced shooter features the usual gameplay style trappings, with double jumps, rocket jumps, and the like. Seven weapons (basic burst gun, shotgun, grenade launcher, plasma gun, rocket launcher, ion cannon, and bolt rifle) lack alternate fire modes but each serve a different role and can be effective. Health, armor, and damage bonuses can be picked up around the map. Occasionally capable bots are also present to practice against. While Reflex offers fine old-school gameplay, it doesn’t offer anything truly innovative to expand upon the formula established by Quake.

Wednesday, March 08, 2017

X-Plane 11 Beta 13 Gameplay Review

I'm playing the Beta 13 of X-Plane 11, a flight simulator by Laminar Research.

Several notable new features highlight the latest release of the venerable flight simulation. First, a set of interactive tutorials (called “Flight School”) teach the basics of flight; additional tutorials covering the idiosyncrasies of each included aircraft (namely their differences in how autopilot and GPS are handled) are needed. Three new aircraft are included and all planes have 3-D cockpits and IFR support; plentiful additional planes can be downloaded and imported. Most notable is the vastly improved interface, complete with resizable and movable GPS and ATC displays. Better scenario selection options are present, and a searchable list of controls is immensely useful. Other improvements include improved regional scenery (like European roads and buildings), service vehicles are airports (that provide push back, baggage, and fuel), and improved sound design. More streamlined networking is included as well. A couple of minor bugs aside (namely ATC periodically forgetting about you and transparent taxi lines), which will most likely be fixed in future beta updates anyway, X-Plane 11 is a very worthy upgrade, more significant in scope than previous steps in the series.

Monday, March 06, 2017

Seasteader Gameplay Review

I'm playing Seasteader, a city management simulation by Cosy Goat.

The game features a campaign mode that offers different objectives (income, population) for each scenario and an open-ended sandbox mode. The interface is very basic, allowing for access to construction menus and trading values, with simple overlays for resource locations. There is a limited number of buildings to choose from that either gather resources (fish, sand, oysters, oil, fruit, cotton, corn) or process them into other things (glass, plastic, gasoline, alcohol). You will end up building the same general structures in the same order each time through, based on which specialized areas (sand or oil deposits) are available. Once you are able to export enough goods to offset your daily maintenance, expansion is easy. Eventually, entertainment structures must be built or people will start to leave. There are random missions that pop up occasionally, but they involve simply producing a set amount of a specific good. Despite the unique setting, Seasteader doesn’t offer enough gameplay variety or innovation to make it stand out.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Constellation Distantia Gameplay Review

I'm playing Constellation Distantia, a space adventure game by Skånerbotten.

The game features a very exposition-heavy, completely linear campaign with no replay value and only one saved position. The controls are initially confusing, as you are only able to pilot the shuttle jet and not the mothership. A lack of concrete distance markers makes it far too easy to inadvertently run into planets and asteroids. The gameplay consists of achieving very specific objectives in each system before moving on to the next (there are no side missions or jobs to complete), usually involving mining resources, flying to checkpoints on the map, engaging enemy vessels, restrictively trading with other ships (simply swapping resources instead of selling mined goods for a profit), and researching ship upgrades. Constellation Distantia lacks an open-world feel, and the restrictiveness of the campaign with no room for improvisation is not inviting.

Monday, February 27, 2017

911 Operator Gameplay Review

I'm playing 911 Operator, an emergency dispatch simulation by Jutsu Games and PlayWay.

The game includes both a career mode and free missions; real world cities can be easily imported into the game, a neat feature. Between missions, new equipment and personnel can be purchased. The job entails assigning police, EMT, and firefighters to emergencies around the map; scripted calls require some work in determining the location and severity of each event. 911 Operator is quite challenging, due to the limited resources and number of simultaneous events that occur. The ability to play in any city around the globe is a very appealing feature in a generally acceptable management game.