Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Robot Arena III Gameplay Review

I'm playing Robot Arena III, a robot combat simulation by Gabriel Interactive and Octopus Tree.

The game features a career mode that is simply a series of bracket-style tournaments against AI bots. Strangely, once a tournament are finished, you cannot replay it again without joining another team and losing all of your robot designs. Exhibition matches against the AI and online events are also available. The bot lab needs more documentation, but it is a flexible method of creating a wide range of robots. Designs can be easily shared through Steam Workshop. Controls are assigned for each robot by the designer and can vary wildly. Camera controls are very poor, and the physics are inconsistent (sometimes hilariously so). The AI is just good enough to be a semi-intelligent opponent. If its shortcomings can be excused, Robot Arena III is a fairly entertaining simulation.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Space Run Galaxy Gameplay Review

I'm playing Space Run Galaxy, a ship design tower defense game by Passtech Games and Focus Home Interactive.

This sequel adds several multiplayer features: online players can offer custom challenges and trade proposals in addition to the more traditional scenarios the game presents. Goods must be transported between worlds (sometimes requiring intermediate stops along the way); a successful delivery is rewarded with credits and crafting materials that are used to purchase new weapons. The spaceport allows for custom ship layouts, but it’s not very flexible. The game mechanics remain the same: place weapons and items on the ship to fight off enemies, with minor micromanagement to rotate some weapons and use special abilities. Space Run Galaxy focuses on generally unnecessary multiplayer features and other minor upgrades that would have been better served as an expansion at half the price.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Feudalism Gameplay Review

I'm playing Feudalism, a turn-based strategy game by IV Productions and Merge Games.

The objective is to become the most powerful family in medieval Europe. Creating a new game can be done quickly or using a large number of customization options; multiplayer requires manually distributing a saved game file to the other players. The interface is absolutely atrocious: it is difficult to find units, select armies, see building queues, give orders, and identify idle buildings or units. With a potentially large kingdom to manage, having an inadequate interface kills the game. Three resources are produced at villages, which can be placed at plentiful locations on each of the regions of the game world. It is far too easy to have an abundance of resources, eliminating any interesting decisions involved in where to found new villages and what to build in those towns. The research tree is linear and uninteresting, as are the diplomatic options. Children can be assigned to concentrate on jobs throughout the kingdom (I’ll have my baby help with research!). The inaccessible, frustrating interface of Feudalism, along with a general lack of polish, overshadows any minor highlights the game has to offer.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Ground Breakers Gameplay Review

I'm playing Ground Breakers, a turn-based strategy game by United Indie.

The game features a number of different game modes: the campaign takes place on a world map where territory is captured and upgraded for increased income, scenarios are against a rival CEO and increase in difficulty, and the infinity mine allows for new parts to be unlocked. In the lab, robots can be crafted from parts scavenged from missions; however, an arbitrary “correct” combination of parts must be discovered using trial-and-error before unlocking a new bot. In addition, truly custom robots cannot be created: instead, pre-existing blueprints must be followed. Online multiplayer is also available. The objective of each match is to capture “tactic” points (which start hidden on the map) or eliminate enemy units. Each robot has different damage, range, speed, movement, and accuracy ratings, along with special abilities that can be unlocked and upgraded with experience during a match. Units do have a variety of uses and abilities, which increases the strategic options. While the game is nominally turn-based, “time points” are used so that units can move at different paces. The interface does a good job showing where units can move and where they could be under threat. The terrain can change during a match, providing new pathways while eliminating others. Destroyed units do respawn, although it takes some time and there is a respawn limit. The AI does a good job engaging vulnerable units and retreating injured ones. Ground Breakers has some interesting gameplay and multiple game modes, but an overall sense of inelegance and a lack of robot design flexibility hold the title back from mass appeal.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Last Days of Old Earth Gameplay Review

I'm playing Last Days of Old Earth, a turn-based strategy game by Auroch Digital and Slitherine.

A spiritual successor to Armageddon Empires, the game features a campaign of skirmish games set on pre-scripted maps, where new cards are added to the player’s deck after each round. Skirmish games against the AI on randomly generated maps are also available, in addition to online multiplayer that is limited to 1v1. There are two slightly different factions in the game, and card decks can be customized for each. There are only a couple of generic starter decks, but making a new one is easy enough. The objective is to capture the enemy base. First, the two sides roll for initiative: whoever goes first gets more action points, so resources can be spent to increase the odds of moving first. Action points are used for recruiting units, moving units, creating armies, building stuff, and drawing cards. Resources are used to recruit units (heroes, units, facilities, and aircraft) and build structures (collectors gather resources while outposts extend supply and allow for unit recruitment). Map terrain can affect movement and combat odds. Units have varied abilities, while facilities grant passive bonuses and aircraft can scout and attack within a large radius from their base. Combat can be automatically resolved, or performed on a square battlefield, where units can use special abilities while attacking the enemy. While slightly improved since the beta, the AI still lacks aggression when they could cripple another side’s economy. Once one side gains a resource advantage, they can afford to win more initiative rolls, giving them more action points to recruit more units and gather more resources, creating an avalanche towards victory. That said, Last Days of Old Earth is still an engaging turn-based strategy game with a variety of minor shortcomings.