Friday, November 29, 2013

Space: The Return Of The Pixxelfrazzer Gameplay Review

I'm playing Space: The Return Of The Pixxelfrazzer, a space action role-playing game.

The game takes place in an infinite procedurally generated space with asteroids, enemy ships, and planets that offer merchants, healing, and quick travel. As you gain experience, you can upgrade the health, energy, and damage capabilities of your spaceship. You can also purchase stackable weapons and undertake missions. Two control methods are available: classic top-down WASD movement or more realistic thrusters and turning like a ship. The basic AI can become challenging when grouped, and a significant XP death penalty means caution should be exercised on occasion. The game’s weapon system and procedurally generated universe combine to make Space: The Return Of The Pixxelfrazzer a somewhat unique action role-playing game.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

SBX: Invasion Gameplay Review

I'm playing SBX: Invasion, a tower defense game by Wakeskater Studio.

The game features ten stages plus and endless mode and a tutorial; content can be expanded by using the simple level editor. Each level offers freeform placement of structures: resource collectors, power generators, turrets, walls, research buildings, and repair facilities. Spare resources can be used to upgrade existing buildings, and the simple AI can be funneled by clever use of walls. Your ship can directly fire on enemies using awkward ship controls with imprecise aiming; a “ghost” movement mode is provided to navigate through walls. Overall, SBX: Invasion is an enjoyable entry in the tower defense genre thanks to unrestricted building placement and the level editor.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Next Car Game Technology Demo Gameplay

I'm playing the technology demo of Next Car Game, an arcade racing game by Bugbear Entertainment.

This demo shows off the car deformation, handling, and physics of the next entry in the developer's line of arcade racing games, which started with FlatOut.The technology demo is available to those who pre-order the game, which is scheduled for release in 2014.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Project Zomboid Alpha Gameplay Preview

I'm playing the alpha of Project Zomboid, a zombie survival role-playing game by The Indie Stone.

The game takes place in a town overrun by the undead. Your character’s morale, hunger, and thirst must be managed, and in-game actions (like farming or combat) will grant new skills and perks. Crafting weapons, gathering food, and constructing fortifications can ward off the swarm mechanics of the horde. Future features include an expanding map, more items, NPC interactions, and online multiplayer. Project Zomboid is scheduled for release when it is released.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

King Arthur’s Gold Gameplay Review

I'm playing King Arthur’s Gold, a destructible deathmatch platform game by Transhuman Design.

The predominantly multiplayer title does feature some single player content, such as an informative tutorial, timed challenges, and a set of levels where you have to defeat enemy soldiers and save a princess. 32-player online multiplayer features several classic game modes: capture the flag, “take the halls” (domination), and team deathmatch. Each of the game’s levels are destructible, and large explosions or weapons can cause buildings to collapse with some fairly impressive physics. Three distinct classes are available: the knight gets a sword and shield, the archer gets a bow and grappling hook, and the builder can collect resources and construct lots of different buildings. Mined resources can be used to construct walls, bridges, tunnels, shops, and weapons (catapults, longboats) that can change the landscape of the map. Each player has their role on the field of battle, and working together as a team is the key to success. King Arthur’s Gold is an appealing, chaotic platform game thanks to destructible levels, mining and construction, varied classes, and swift combat.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Redshirt Gameplay Review

I'm playing Redshirt, a sci-fi life management simulation by The Tiniest Shark and Positech Games.

In the game, you interact with randomly generated people aboard a space station using Spacebook, where you can create relationships (friendly and romantic), “like” posts, “tag” others, talk about work, write private messages, or compose inane messages about song lyrics. The social map displays the relationship values with friends and coworkers, and you can improve relations with others by creating events that involve their interests. You also should improve your career by befriending the boss of the next job and practicing the skills required for that line of work. Money earned from working can be spent on lavish events to impress your friends and items that will boost your stats. “Away missions” also occur at random times, killing off some of your redshirt friends. Overall, Redshirt is a unique take on the life management game in an inspired setting.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Epigenesis Alpha Gameplay Preview

I'm playing the alpha of Epigenesis, a first-person action sports game by Dead Shark Triplepunch.

The objective is to carry a ball to your goal, shooting enemies to push them off the platforms that make up each map. You can also capture intermediate spawn points for quicker travel. It is scheduled for release in Q1 2014.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Pandora: First Contact Gameplay Review

I'm playing Pandora: First Contact, a turn-based 4X strategy game by Proxy Studios, Slitherine, and Matrix Games.

The game’s clear inspiration is Alpha Centauri, and it takes a lot of cues from that heralded strategy title. Games take place on randomized hex-based maps with varied terrain, and can be played against the AI or online using real-time simultaneous multiplayer. Factions provide different bonuses and vie for military, economic, or scientific victory. The interface is generally done well, with city and unit lists, a turn action reminder (like move units, research, or build), and likely combat results before battle starts. Each city expands as the population grows, and you can assign workers to different resource-producing tasks. Buildings can enhance city attributes, and excess gold can be used to instantly produce units or structures. High pollution from industrial operations can reduce morale, and formers can automatically improve surrounding terrain. Basic units can be customized as research is conducted, assigning specific weapons, armor, and devices to use during combat. Units gain experience with combat, resulting in more effective attacks and higher health. A randomized technology tree shuffles research options, and diplomacy can cultivate trade pacts, non-aggression agreements, or war. AI factions are quite adept at the game, and the hostile aliens provide an interesting common foe. While the game lacks significant innovation, those looking for a modern take on Alpha Centauri will not be disappointed.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Asteria Gameplay Review

I'm playing Asteria, a sandbox platform game by Legend Studio.

The procedurally generated destructible worlds include pre-designed dungeons and persistent server-based online multiplayer. Mining and attacking are both ranged, which results in expedient mining of varied materials and quick combat. There are a lot of raw materials to gather, divided into different tiers; the game provides explicit tool-tip recipes for crafting items, so there is no guessing what is needed for necessary components. Resources can be turned into a wide selection of weapons (blasters, shotguns, sniper rifles), armor, mining tools, lights, signs, storage, doors, waypoints, and drones to mine and find portals to dungeons. The large inventory has high stacking limits, so you rarely have to worry about running out of room. Enemies are typically just a nuisance, and the lack of a death penalty favors unbridled exploration. Asteria puts the emphasis on quick progression, leaving a lot of the tedium present in a majority of sandbox games behind. A focus on rapid collection, plus an outstanding variety of materials to gather and equipment to craft, makes Asteria an appealing entry in the genre.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Timelines: Assault on America Gameplay Review

I'm playing Timelines: Assault on America, a real-time strategy game by 4Flash Interactive and Strategy First.

NOTE: Due to an inadequate tutorial, a lack of documentation, and odd controls, I was unaware of how to perform some in-game actions. You can set rally points by double-clicking on a factory (instead of the more conventional right-click), select nearby units of the same type by double-clicking, and more quickly construct units by (you guessed it) a double-click. So there you go.

The game centers around a Nazi invasion of the United States during World War II, and the twelve-mission American fight to reclaim the homeland. The bland, poorly-balanced mission design with scripted enemy encounters is uninspired. Multiplayer is available both cooperatively against the AI and competitively against other humans. The interface is a mixed bag: for example, I like the army panel that lists all units, but you can’t select all units of one type or easily select a sub-group of units in the list. The game lacks a “select all” button and there are no building rally points: newly constructed units are sent in seemingly random directions until you corral them. The interface requires one too many clicks to construct units or conduct research, the you cannot scroll the map by pacing the mouse cursor along the edge. Money, earned by capturing radio towers, is used to place buildings (only one per type, reducing strategic depth) and construct units; units come in the usual varieties, such as light tanks, artillery, machine gunners, and medics. Tokens can be spent to upgrade units. While units will automatically attack any enemy units that come within weapon range, the terrible pathfinding commonly splits up groups of units and leads to tons of unorganization. The AI seems to benefit from heavily favored scripting, as its tactics are mostly absent. Overall, the inefficient interface, monotonous missions, typical unit roster, substandard AI, and lack of strategic depth make Timelines: Assault on America a totally forgettable real-time strategy game.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Bad Hotel Gameplay Review

I'm playing Bad Hotel, a tower defense game by Lucky Frame.

All twenty-five of the game’s levels are unlocked, which is good because the game is very challenging. There are some interesting rules in some levels that restrict what kinds of buildings can be placed. Your goal is to protect the hotel lobby from enemy units; rooms are placed in a freeform manner around the base. Rooms can provide income, shoot bullets or mines, heal surrounding rooms, freeze enemy units, or instantly explode nearby foes. Despite its short length, the flexible construction and chaotic pace of Bad Hotel make it stand out in the tower defense genre.

Monday, November 04, 2013

Neocolonialism Gameplay Review

I'm playing Neocolonialism, a turn-based global strategy game by Subaltern Games.

The objective of each twelve-turn game is to make the most money at the expense of the world. You can play against the capable, if robotic, AI or online against real humans. Each turn consists of three phases. The investment phase is where you buy votes to elect a prime minister. A minimum of three votes in a region is required to initiate an election, and a prime minister is required to provide per-turn income back to the voters. Personal wealth is spent purchasing votes, the cost of which is determined by the level of regional improvements. During the policy phase, the prime minister can build improvements (mines and factories) to generate more income, enact trade agreements to improve income in both regions, or funnel vote income to the Swiss bank account (which is how score is kept). Elections take place every three turns, and the pace of the game is generally speedy. The final phase of a turn is the IMF phase, where one player manipulates the International Monetary Fund and makes one decision in a ravaged region. Neocolonialism is a strange, unique strategy game that uses all the world as a stage for economic backstabbing.

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Battle Worlds: Kronos Gameplay Review

I'm playing Battle Worlds: Kronos, a turn-based strategy game by King Art Games.

The fairly lengthy campaign features good mission variety. Online asynchronous multiplayer is available, although the map selection is limited. The interface has some handy features, like an icon-based zoomed-out view and highlighted attack ranges for both friendly and hostile units. Factories with limited resources can produce new units; crates scattered around the maps can be brought to unit-producing structures using transports. A generic selection of units is available: infantry, tanks, artillery, fighters, submarines, helicopters, and patrol boats to name a few. Units gain experience over time and can be upgraded to improve armor, range, or attack abilities. Units can take two actions per turn (the combination of which is determined by the unit type): move, attack, or “joker”, where you can choose to move, attack, or perform a special action. Combat is straightforward, with adjacency bonuses for supported units and varied attack ranges for added tactical depth. The AI plays the game well, using units appropriately and attacking vulnerabilities; most scenarios feature superior enemy numbers that keep the challenge level high. Overall, Battle Worlds: Kronos is a slick, approachable turn-based strategy game that should appeal to fans of the genre.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Defense Technica Gameplay Review

I'm playing Defense Technica, a tower defense game by Kuno Interactive and Devolver Digital.

Levels of uneven difficulty, which may include scripted weather events and layout transformations that negatively impact your defensive designs, unlock in a linear order. The same enemy wave compositions spawning from the same locations decrease replay value of a single level. The awkward keyboard-driven controls use an ever-present cursor in the center of the screen that is moved using the WASD keys, although you can select objects using the mouse pointer. While the enemy route indicator is a handy tool (they always follow the shortest path to the core), the interface lacks a minimap and you can’t zoom out far enough to see the entire map at one time. Alien icons also lack tool-tips so you have to memorize which weapons are best against each upcoming foe. Various tower types (gun, melee, fire, SAM, mortar, heal) can be placed in limited, pre-defined locations. Upgrades can be unlocked by completing missions, but you have to pay for the tower in addition to the more expensive upgrade; simply placing a new tower is always more efficient unless you have run out of space. Resources are earned by killing enemies and moving the mouse over cubes dropped by the fallen. A finite amount of ether can be used to heal the core or bomb a large area of enemies at once. Defense Technica borrows some concepts from previous tower defense titles and doesn’t offer much new itself, instead opting for low replay value, restrictive building, and an inefficient interface.