Thursday, April 24, 2014

Wargame: Red Dragon Gameplay Review

I'm playing Wargame: Red Dragon, a military real-time strategy game by Eugen Systems and Focus Home Interactive.

The game moves to Asia, adding campaigns and units from Japan, China, North and South Korea, Australia, and New Zealand. The maps are significantly improved, with much more realistic changes in elevation, varied terrain, and coastal regions to support the new naval units. The solo campaign divides units up into smaller divisions for more flexible strategies. The same engaging multiplayer remains with several game modes to determine victory, and skirmish games are available against the AI. All units are unlocked again for building your decks, although the naval units needs to be better organized and are too generic as the same ships are recycled for every nation on a side. The naval units are disappointing overall: the best strategy is to mass a bunch of units together and shoot down all incoming missiles. There is no cheap, effective counter to groups of naval units like there is for powerful tanks and planes, which makes naval spam difficult to avoid. That said, the strong aspects of previous Wargame entries remain: scouting with recon, using cover, the effectiveness of infantry in urban areas, resupply, and morale. Despite the naval shortcomings, Red Dragon is another improved entry in an excellent real-time strategy series.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Out of the Park Baseball 15 Gameplay Review

I'm playing Out of the Park Baseball 15, a baseball management game by Out of the Park Developments.

The latest edition of the venerable baseball simulation franchise includes 2014 rosters, new international leagues, 3D ballparks (eventually), a reworked interface, and a host of minor features. In addition to using the opening day rosters for 2014, you can play out any historical season starting from 1871 or customize a league. Your inbox fills with important messages as you peruse intricate team stats and league schedules and results. The 25-man major league roster, 40-man roster, disabled list, and minor league rosters can all be adjusted for injuries or performance, or you can just manage a minor league team and deal with the roster changes made by your major league GM. Meticulous player ratings are used to adjust the pitching rotation, bullpen structure, lineup, and depth chart for your team. You can also adjust strategy options for game simulations. Games can be managed manually (choosing specific pitching or batting strategies and making substitutions), or you can watch the results as they happen in real (or accelerated) time across the league. Games progress at a good pace, although making pitching substitutions should be easier. The AI managers and simulation results both seem to produce plausible results. Much like in previous versions, Out of the Park continues to be the go-to baseball simulation.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Luna’s Wandering Stars Gameplay Review

I'm playing Luna’s Wandering Stars, a physics-based puzzle game by Serenity Forge.

The campaign features a series of missions at each planet in our solar system. Each planet comes with a unique way of controlling your asteroid, which is used to collect other asteroids and proceed to the next level. You can also create and share custom puzzles from within the game. The game has Newtonian physics where gravity, mass, and velocity all interact realistically. Puzzles can consist of some clever designs and multiple solutions are usually possible. While Luna’s Wandering Stars is a challenging game, fans of physics-based puzzles should find a pleasing experience.

Monday, April 14, 2014

UFHO2 Gameplay Review

I'm playing UFHO2, a turn-based strategic board game by Tiny Colossus.

The game includes a story mode which offers slightly over twenty matches against the AI. You can also play the game locally against others or the AI; online cross-platform multiplayer is planned for the near future. Each game takes place on a map of hexagonal areas filled with hexagonal rooms. The goal is to collect gems from around the map; each turn, you can complete six moves consisting of rotating areas, rotating rooms, or moving your alien. Various power-ups are available to prevent room rotation, grant additional moves, or grant other abilities. The AI is quite adept at the game, providing a very good challenge. UFHO2 is a straightforward computerized board game with interesting mechanics and capable AI.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Warlock II: The Exiled Gameplay Review

I'm playing Warlock II: The Exiled, a turn-based fantasy 4X strategy game by Ino-Co Plus and Paradox Interactive.

This sequel is very similar to the original game, especially in the sandbox mode. The major new addition is the Exiled campaign, where you must conquer a series of maps connected by gates, leading up to a showdown with a massive boss. The game rules have been tweaked to decrease city spam (through both a numerical city cap and more aggressive monsters), leading to more exploration and less settlers. Hero units can now be recruited and given weapons and items, and a revised spell tree allows for less random, more structured research. The quality of the AI opponents, both rival mages and non-playable monsters, has been improved, although your adversaries still love to found cities and inefficiently move units. Featuring minor additions for owners of the original game, Warlock II: The Exiled is a pleasant turn-based strategy game on its own merits.