Wednesday, October 29, 2014

IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle of Stalingrad Gameplay Review

I'm playing IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle of Stalingrad, a combat flight simulator by 777 Studios and 1C Game Studios.

Set during the winter snow of Russia during World War II, the campaign consists of five chapters where you must pass six randomly-generated missions in order to advance to the next set. The mission type options (intercept, escort, ground attack, ground support, or bombing) depend on the aircraft you have chosen from the roster of four for each side (two additional planes can be purchased for $40). While all of the aircraft are available from the start, successfully completing missions will unlock new skins and weapons. Despite featuring a fairly user friendly interface that can be turned off for increased realism, IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle of Stalingrad has no guided tutorials that explain the controls and lacks a manual. Quick missions, more scripted encounters, and online multiplayer are also available. The game relies on seemingly authentic plane handling and adjustable realism (manual engine and fuel control can be enabled, for example). Lethal weapons coupled with limited ammunition means you need to pick your shots, and the damage can be impressive when fire and missing wings are involved. The AI does an adequate job, although they do occasionally miss targets, run into allies, or shoot the player. While not a complete return to glory, IL-2 Sturmovik: Battle of Stalingrad is a solid entry in the combat flight simulator series.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Pike and Shot Gameplay Review

I'm playing Pike and Shot, a turn-based strategy game by Byzantine Games, The Lordz Games Studio, and Slitherine.

The game features three campaigns covering the Thirty Years War, English Civil War, and Italian Wars, plus randomized skirmishes on computer-generated maps and online multiplayer using Slitherine’s PBEM system. The interface (like a lot of the game) is essentially identical to Battle Academy 2; a number of foot, horse, and artillery units are available for both ranged and melee combat. Once a unit engages another in melee combat, it does not stop until one side routs, a game mechanic which reduces tactical flexibility. The inability to ignore “priority” enemy units or routed units and engage others nearby also makes it more difficult to flank your opponent. Casualties are very low; morale always determines the victor. While Pike and Shot takes a solid game engine to a new setting, the unique game rules produce slow and restrictive gameplay.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Door Kickers Gameplay Review

I'm playing Door Kickers, a tactical strategy game by KillHouse Games.

The game features over seventy stand-alone missions with varied objectives (clear hostiles, rescue hostages, defuse the bomb, arrest suspects, stop an execution, protect a VIP), a random mission generator, and several campaigns with linked missions. Steam Workshop support is included so players can exchange mods and custom maps made using the editor. Completing missions (successfully or not) awards experience points that unlock new classes and weapons; soldiers will gain better stats through combat experience. The interface is streamlined: soldier paths are drawn using the mouse and contextual actions can be made at doorways (use camera, flashbang, breach). Coordinating attacks through doorways can be a bit tricky on occasion, although “go” codes can be used to execute simultaneous actions. Door Kickers offers up some very challenging scenarios with solid gameplay and the potential for long-term support thanks to the map editor and randomized missions.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Heavy Bullets Gameplay Review

I'm playing Heavy Bullets, a roguelike first-person shooter by Terri Vellmann and Devolver Digital.

Featuring randomly generated levels and permadeath over eight levels, the game is fast paced with quick movement and low health for both enemies and the player. A handful of different enemy types are found, offering various challenges in the neon-colored maps. The revolver only holds eight bullets, which must be picked up and manually reloaded after they are used, adding tension. A large variety of items can be purchased using coins dropped by enemies: potions to heal, buffs for speed or collection radii, or alternative weapons like knives and rockets. Coins can also be stored at a bank for future playthroughs, or you can opt for life insurance or a last will to preserve items for next time. Heavy Bullets offers a very effective combination of fast-paced first-person shooting with roguelike elements to produce a compelling gaming experience.

Monday, October 13, 2014

TinyKeep Gameplay Review

I'm playing TinyKeep, an action roguelike by Phigames and Digital Tribe Games.

With procedurally-generated dungeons and permadeath, TinyKeep features limited controls that can’t be changed, a limited fixed viewing perspective, and an unclear minimap. Combat is a repetitive mix of blocking and attacking. Other prisoners can be freed, and they can either help or attack the protagonist. Taps and hazards can be used against the rudimentary AI. The unnecessary physics engine can make for funny deaths, but usually just places things in the way of fluid movement. Coins dropped from killed enemies can be spent on random buffs, and the game is difficult until a lot of these random buffs are unlocked. TinyKeep is a limited roguelike that strips down the successful formula too much.