Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Bus Simulator 18 Gameplay Review

I'm playing Bus Simulator 18, a bus driving simulation by stillalive studios and Astragon Entertainment.

The game takes place in a single town of relatively small size (it only takes a couple of minutes to drive from one end to the other). Money earned by driving routes can be used to purchase new buses and hire employees to drive routes for you. Or, you can go online and drive for other users’ companies, a neat feature. The driving is faithful: if all of the realism options are turned on, you must unlock the doors, turn on the ignition, turn on all of the lights, and put the bus into drive before each excursion. Speed limit signs are rare, and European priority roads take some acclimation for an American used to traffic lights and 4-way stops. The AI traffic will yield if you signal to merge back in from a stop, and they seem to give right-of-way as well. In addition to opening the doors for customers, you must give change to people whom purchase tickets (an enjoyable aspect of the game). You may also have to clean up garbage or tell riders to turn their hippie music down. Conversations between passengers repeat themselves quickly. Despite the limited driving area, Bus Simulator 18 is an effective game highlighted by solid driving and online multiplayer.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Flashing Lights Early Access Gameplay Preview

I'm playing the early access version of Flashing Lights, an emergency services simulation by Nils Jakrins' Team and Excalibur Games.

Taking place in a fairly sizable open world, the game can be played alone or cooperatively online. Three different occupations can be chosen: police, fireman, or EMT. Currently, missions are limited: the police can only ram a target car (in addition to issuing parking tickets), firemen can put out blazes or rescue people trapped in vehicles, and medics inspect victims and transport them to the hospital. Hopefully, additional content and improvements will be added to Flashing Lights during development, as the potential is there for an enjoyable cooperative game.

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Antigraviator Gameplay Review

I'm playing Antigraviator, an arcade racing game by Cybernetic Walrus and Iceberg Interactive.

The game features a single player campaign where money earned during each race can be used to unlock new parts. However, you must place first to unlock the next set of races, which is a very tough proposition. Additionally, there is local split-screen multiplayer, online multiplayer with rankings and leaderboards, and single races against the AI. Beyond traditional lap-based events, there are "deathraces" where last place is eliminated each circuit, and a "countdown" mode where passing through checkpoints adds time. There are only 12 different tracks in four settings, but the tracks don't impact the racing too much. Controls are typical, with air braking to get around tight turns and collecting pickups for boost. Antigraviator advertises "no speed limit", but there is clearly a top speed as the car slows down after boosting. Traps (missiles, ice, mines, et cetera) are available at various locations around each track (indicated on the map). The first person to smash the B button gets to use it immediately, which is a terrible game mechanic devoid of strategy: there is no saving traps for just the right moment. Racing favors being in the lead too much (as you can collect the boost pickups first and widen your lead), and the AI racers stick to the racing line and slam into each other and you continually. Antigraviator has the potential to be a compelling arcade racer, but its lack of tactics in using traps and favoritism towards being in the lead places it off the podium.

Monday, June 04, 2018

Football, Tactics & Glory Gameplay Review

I'm playing Football, Tactics & Glory, a turn-based sports strategy game by Creoteam.

The game features a single player campaign mode where you lead a team from the amateurs to the premier league, signing new players and upgrading facilities along the way. There is also hotseat and online multiplayer, but no single games against the AI. There is good mod support with Steam Workshop integration. Players have four stats (accuracy, passing, defense, and control) that determine how high their random dice rolls go; skills are also available to use during games in special situations. Players gain experience during matches that can be used to unlock new classes (sweeper, full back) with additional game attributes. Each match is turn-based: a team gets three moves before control is passed to the opponent. Players can move, dribble, pass, shoot, hold the ball (which increases control), tackle, press (to make it easier for a second player to tackle), swap positions, cross, or break in. Free kicks, corner kicks, and penalty kicks allow for limited player positioning before the play starts. A lot of the game’s strategy involves initial placement of players on the field, and then using their abilities to move the ball into the net. This results in a lot of formation changes and counters to those changes during the course of a game, at least when humans are involved: while the AI is good at the game, it never alters its formation during a match, causing a successful plan to be able to be repeated. Two things prevent Football, Tactics & Glory from being a great game: the lack of single games against the AI, and the static formation usage by the computer opponent.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Airport Simulator 2019 Gameplay Review

I'm playing Airport Simulator 2019, an airport management simulation by Toplitz Productions.

The game mainly involves driving vehicles (buses, cargo loaders, baggage transports, fuel trucks) around an airport. Paths are drawn on the ground to assist in navigation, and cruise control is available to rest weary “W” keys. The driving physics are simplistic and all vehicles are easy to handle. AI drivers will come to a halt when you get too close, but will run into stopped vehicles you may have parked in odd locations. Each incoming flight has a number of steps that must be completed, either by you or staff you have hired. Staff members will level up with experience, and additional vehicles can be purchased to handle more complex flight tasks. Time acceleration is available to skip to the next event. Airport Simulator 2019 is extremely repetitive and limited in scope to just driving vehicles and assigning staff, but doesn’t have any huge areas of concern like many simulations do.