Monday, September 30, 2013

FootLOL: Epic Fail League Gameplay Review

I'm playing FootLOL: Epic Fail League, an action sports game by Lion’s Shade and Herocraft.

The soccer game features a championship mode where new skills are unlocked, quick skirmish matches, and online multiplayer. Usually you must win matches outright, but occasionally to must end the game with a specific score; you  can also receive a cash bonus for attaining intermediate scores during the match. FootLOL: Epic Fail League features a pleasingly large variety of skills, and restricts the number of different skills and instances of each skill you may bring to a match. This means important strategic decisions must be made before heading to the pitch, and the game allows for a multitude of complementary strategies. Players will automatically move, pass, and kick during the game, so your role is to place obstacles and buffs on the field to assist your team and prevent the other from scoring. Matches are hectic, chaotic, silly fun, with powerful spells being used by both sides. Thanks to the variety of inventive skills and the fast pace of the matches, FootLOL: Epic Fail League is an enjoyable action sports title.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations Gameplay Review

I'm playing Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations, a real-time military strategy game by Warfare Sims, Matrix Games, and Slitherine.

The game covers military engagements since the 1950’s, and includes thirty-five scenarios of varying sizes, though Command does not include multiplayer yet. The powerful yet relatively easy-to-use scenario editor includes a map of the entire world and essentially every plane, ship, and submarine used by any country the past sixty years; it’s a tool that should be fully embraced by the community. The two tutorial missions are decent, with on-screen prompts for each phase of action, although it does take some time (about an hour for me) to learn the interface and fundamentals of the game engine. The interface does provide lots of reasonably organized information, from orders of battle to a comprehensive in-game database; you can access useful information (sensors, weapons, aircraft, damage) quickly. The map uses ringed displays for weapon and sensor ranges that are confusing until you learn the colors (which ring is air weapon range again?). Issuing unit orders is straightforward: you can right-click on a unit or use the top menu to engage targets, plot a course, change speed or depth, and switch on sensors. You can also easily group units or make a naval formation. Missions are a fantastic part of the game: you can tell units to perform a strike, patrol, reconnaissance, refuel, transport, mine, or anti-mine operation in a user-specified area, and the AI will carry it out automatically for you. If you choose, you can micromanage your units, picking specific waypoints, weapons, and evasion maneuvers on the fly. The flexibility to manage what you want and automate the rest certainly expands the appeal of this realistic military simulation. The AI does a good job following directions and behaving intelligently, and provides a good opponent for the battles. Combat uses dice rolls to assist in assigning damage, and individual parts of a unit can be destroyed. The exhaustive unit research, flexible scenario editor, handy automated mission system, and relatively accessible interface will make Command: Modern Air/Naval Operations appeal to any fan of realistic military strategy games.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ironclad Tactics Gameplay Review

I'm playing Ironclad Tactics, a card-based tactics game by Zachtronics.

The story mode takes place during the American Civil War, featuring unskippable comic book cutscenes. Beating each level and achieving optional side objectives earns more cards; I found the mode to be quite difficult, placing beginning players at an immediate disadvantage online since the story mode’s unlocked cards are also used for multiplayer. You cannot skip tough levels (the difficulty is uneven enough where this is a needed feature), but you can go back with a “better” deck and complete side objectives from earlier scenarios. You can play any of the missions cooperatively, but only with people from your Steam friends list; matchmaking is available for 1v1 competitive battles, however. Ironclad Tactics features a large quantity of cards and limits you to twenty in a deck, which makes for some tough strategic decisions in choosing ironclads, infantry, parts, and tactics. The battles are in real-time, but use turn-based conventions: you get a fixed number of seconds to act and then the turn is resolved. This helps to speed up each match. Action points are accumulated over time and used to play cards; units automatically march across the battlefield unless you manually order them to stop. Special squares can give more victory or action points to your team. The AI is very good (part of the reason the game is so difficult), using complementary units and playing cards in an intelligent manner. Despite intriguing deck building and fast-paced unique gameplay, the level of difficulty and disadvantage newcomers have online hinder my overall enjoyment of Ironclad Tactics.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Legend of Dungeon Gameplay Review

I'm playing Legend of Dungeon, an action role-playing roguelike dungeon crawler by Robot Loves Kitty.

Levels are randomly generated each time you play, giving a lot of replay value. The side-scrolling dungeons feature lighted doors to remember rooms you have been to and secret passages full of secrets. Keeping with roguelike tradition, death is permanent and you cannot save your progress. Four player cooperative gameplay is available, but only on the same computer. Your health and attack ratings automatically increase with experience, while holding or wearing items may boost your attack and defense. Gold is used to keep score and purchase items in the shop. Legend of Dungeon features a nice assortment of weapons (melee, ranged, magic), hats, and potions that have randomized enchantments. Combat is fairly basic, although some of the weapons are more appropriate different exotic, varied monsters. Legend of Dungeon features a nice level of randomization that makes each adventure play a bit differently, and fans of roguelike games will enjoy the difficult and loot-filled dungeons.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Few Gameplay Review

I'm playing The Few, a real-time strategy game by BlackMoon Design.

In it, you control the air force of the United Kingdom during the Battle of Britain. The game uses pausable real-time, although the time scale heavily compresses unit and building construction. On the map of England and Wales, you will place radar stations to detect incoming Germans, anti-air defenses, factories to produce units and buildings, and airfields to base squadrons. Each squadron has eight pilots that gain experience points over time and eight planes with health, fuel, and ammunition levels that are remedied at base between missions. The Few utilizes the same enemy engagements over and over again, producing a lot of repetition, and sends more enemy planes than you can reasonably deal with. Once a squadron is scrambled and meets an enemy group in the sky, a real-time battle takes place where you can specify paths and targets for your planes. The AI is mediocre: while planes will attack their designated target, they will ignore any nearby enemy planes once their target is destroyed, leading to needless micromanagement in the heat of battle. Unfortunately, you need to play out each and every battle as auto-resolution causes far too many casualties to your forces. The repetitive, uninspired battles, coupled with simplified, unbalanced map-based nation defense, make The Few less engaging.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Tenshu General Gameplay Review

I'm playing Tenshu General, a real-time strategy board game by SmartArt Game Studio.

The game features contests on six different maps against up to three computer opponents. Taking over provinces is accomplished in real-time, and you start by placing your Tenshu castle that can be defensively improved. Rice gathered at each of your provinces can be spent on upgrades or armies; provincial upgrades will produce more rice over time. Undefended provinces are captured immediately, resulting in a lot of tedious side-switching as your expensive armies cannot guard every important location simultaneously. Battle results are predictable, with different attack and defense ratings determining the outcome. The AI is not great, but good enough for an occasional challenge. While Tenshu General’s mechanics are streamlined and there are some important strategic decisions to make during each game, its lack of replay value and limited depth hinder long-term enjoyment.

Monday, September 09, 2013

Galaxy Union Gameplay Review

I'm playing Galaxy Union, a 4X turn-based space strategy game by cybercritics.

The game places you at a random location in the galaxy (which is not randomly generated); your goal is to earn shares (achievements) by expanding your economy. There is no tutorial (only help text), no main menu, and an interface that takes some time to learn. Resources are elements found in the periodic table, which can be mined and sold on the market. You can file a patent for a specific product made from your resources; you can then manufacture that product at factories on your colonies. The market uses supply and demand to determine prices, so producing things that are in high demand is a good strategy. Colonization does not require ships (just an expensive up-front cost), and placing buildings on your colonies will generate raw resources and materials needed for production (water, power, labor). Space stations placed on gas planets can conduct research and collect the gases necessary for most patents. Fleets can be constructed to defend your systems, although they are very expensive to maintain. While Galaxy Union has a couple of interesting, unique gameplay mechanics, the game lacks user-friendliness with a number of unexplained or poorly documented features and an inefficient interface.

Friday, September 06, 2013

INSURGENCY Beta Gameplay Preview

I'm playing the beta of INSURGENCY, a first person shooter by New World Interactive.

The former modification includes objective-based modes where a team respawns when an area is captured. Four-person squads with defined roles and customized weapon loadouts with weight-based upgrades battle it out in urban, close-quarters environments. The pace is deadly, with one-to-two hit kills; prone is available, and a hip-fire aiming reticle is absent so you should aim down sights. Pre-ordering the game grants immediate beta access. INSURGENCY is scheduled for release sometime in 2014.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013

Shelter Gameplay Review

I'm playing Shelter, a survival adventure game by Might and Delight.

The game features a very linear level design and lacks an open-world mode free of restrictions. The short story only saves at the end of each level. Your five cubs do a decent job following you and keeping up. The shift key is used to run and ram into trees (dropping food), and left-clicking will call your young, pick up food, or pounce on prey from the bushes. The children turn grey as they become more hungry, and you must try distribute food to the most starved offspring. Predators will occasionally appear, requiring you to dash towards nearby bushes. You must also avoid rapids and fire, interjecting some platform-like puzzles into the game. In the end, Shelter is an extremely repetitive, linear, and short survival game that lacks much in the way of motivation unless you bond with your digitized cubs.

Monday, September 02, 2013

Aces Wild Gameplay Review

I'm playing Aces Wild, a side-scrolling fighting action game by Culture Attack Studio.

The game features an arcade mode where you can start any stage in any area, a boss-only mode, and a decent tutorial (with gigantic text instructions). You can play the game cooperatively on the same computer, and a score is kept to compare your fighting prowess (or lack thereof, in my case). Controls consist of the following: a basic rapid attack, a more powerful crash attack, a panic attack that restores health, dodging to counter enemy moves, and dashing quickly across the map. Successful attacks increase your “wild”, which boosts both your attacks and those of your enemies. “Wild” can be spent on crash or panic attacks. While the fighting mechanics lead to some cool action-packed sequences, Aces Wild gets very tough at the end of each stage at the boss battles, featuring enemies with powerful attacks that require many hits to defeat. While this level of difficulty will be off-putting to some, the fast-paced action could appeal to fans of action fighting games.