Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Friday, July 26, 2013
I played the beta of Europa Universalis IV, a real-time grand strategy game by Paradox Interactive. Recording video is not allowed for this preview period, so please enjoy my antiquated non-moving words!
Europa Universalis IV features some significant changes to the previous game in the well-regarded grand strategy series. Most countries now have different national ideas and events that make each play a bit differently, and missions give reasonable intermediate objects to achieve. Multiplayer games can be joined in progress, and plans call for persistent online servers supporting many players that can join the world when they like. The interface has been enhanced with many small changes, the most notable being placing all pertinent information in related tabs on the country information panel. Other new interface features include a construction mode for units and buildings, auto-repairing fleets that patrol trade routes, units that can automatically engage rebels, and suggestions on how to combat negative conditions (like rebels).
One of the biggest changes is the transition to administrative, diplomatic, and military power points that are spent on research, national ideas, stability, diplomacy, constructing buildings, inflation, military leaders, and many other actions. The amount of power accumulated each month can be boosted by your monarch (who can have a huge impact on technology and ideas, both positive and negative, based on their ratings) and advisors (that latter option effectively converts income into power points). Merchants, diplomats, colonists, and missionaries are now named characters (similar to Crusader Kings 2, minus the detail) and are sent on tasks instead of being spent like currency. This means you must prioritize jobs for the limited number of envoys you have available.
Trade is another overhauled aspect of Europa Universalis IV. Centers of trade are now “trade nodes”, geographic areas where merchants can be sent to compete for trade income. You can also send merchants to trade routes in order to direct more trade to the nodes in your country. You should also devote a fleet (or two) to defending nearby naval trade routes to further increase your coffers. Once your merchants are set up, however, only minor tweaks are needed to maintain your trade empire. Budgets are now only monthly, and loans are less troublesome to take out (although they do increase inflation).
Diplomatic relationship values are now two-way (like in Crusader Kings 2) with specific descriptions of why the value is what it is. New diplomatic options include temporary coalitions against a single enemy, basing your fleet (for protecting trade) in friendly nations, and enforcing peace in a war (you’ll join the side of the defender if a white peace is not immediately signed). The old espionage actions are now jobs for your diplomats, and new peace options are present, as is the ability to set rival nations. You also suffer a penalty for having too many diplomatic agreements at a given time. Aggressive expansion (replacing “badboy”) will result in neighboring countries to have a lower opinion of you, eventually resulting in war. Low national stability and taking too much non-core territory can spawn rebels; newly acquired provinces can become core provinces by spending administrative power. And the various religions come with subtle differences.
Combat has also been tweaked: shattered armies retreat several provinces and remain stationary while morale is recovered, which eliminates annoying “ping-pong”ing during war. Battles now produce much more definitive results, causing shorter, less annoying wars.
Europa Universalis IV is scheduled for release on August 14th.
Thursday, July 25, 2013
Thursday, July 18, 2013
I'm playing the alpha of Full Mojo Rampage, an action role-playing game with procedurally-generated levels, permadeath, and a voodoo theme by Over the Top Games.
The game does not have a scheduled release date at this time, but pre-ordering the title will grant immediate alpha build access.
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Sunday, July 14, 2013
I'm playing Guncraft, a construction (and destruction)-based first person shooter by Exato Game Studios and Reverb Publishing.
Thursday, July 11, 2013
The game is online only, so there are no bots to practice against (although the tutorial is quite entertaining). You earn cash, based on the amount of power you have left over after each deathmatch (and lose it if you are defeated), that can be spent on perks that increase the potency of weapons and items. Gun Monkeys features procedurally-generated levels, which dramatically increases replay value while producing some funky layouts. The game doesn’t feature any aiming (you can only shoot horizontally in the direction you are facing), which makes control cumbersome. You can double-jump, wall-grab, and use ladders, so those familiar with platform mechanics will feel at home. Collecting power cubs will regenerate your supply, which gradually dwindles over time. Dying also takes a chunk out of your power, as does placing mines. You can also utilize some interesting power-up crates and explodable crates to defeat the enemy. While Gun Monkeys can be an enjoyable platform shooter with fast-paced combat, the lack of aiming and absence of bots may dissuade some.
Sunday, July 07, 2013
I'm playing Magrunner: Dark Pulse, a first-person physics-based puzzle game by 3 AM Games, Frogwares Games, and Focus Home Interactive.
Wednesday, July 03, 2013
I'm playing Panzer Corps: Allied Corps, a turn-based strategy game by Flashback Games Studio, The Lordz Games Studio, Slitherine, and Matrix Games.
The game is a standalone expansion to the original title, offering four campaigns (and a tutorial) that covers World War II from a Western Allies point of view. Thirty included scenarios (you can play them individually as well) with varied victory conditions provide satisfying content, and important core units carry over from mission to mission. A scenario editor can expand the content even further. Adjustable game settings include difficulty (with sliders for computer prestige, experience, and intelligence levels), weather, supply, fog of war, game rules, combat randomization, and the ability of undoing moves. Panzer Corps: Allied Corps includes Slitherine’s server-side PBEM matchmaking that handles all online combat internally. The game has a handy interface: it’s easy to find units, identify which have not moved or attacked, and locate objective locations. In addition, the map is not cluttered with statistics and the strategic map gives a good scenario overview. Typical units of the time period are included, from infantry to tanks to strategic bombers, and they are rated in several areas, including spotting, movement, ground defense, and hard attack. Units can move and attack each turn, or perform one other action like receiving supplies, gaining reinforcements, or upgrading. Prestige earned on the battlefield can be used to call in new units or reinforce existing ones. Some of the more interesting game rules include increased attack ratings for infantry in urban areas, a zone of control around each unit that prevents enemy movement, retreating when suppressed, ambushes, mass attacks from multiple angles, and rugged defense. The AI is a capable opponent that uses mixed units well. Overall, Panzer Corps: Allied Corps is an excellent approachable turn-based wargame with friendly accessibility and simplified rules without sacrificing strategic depth.