Friday, August 29, 2014

Lethal League Gameplay Review

I'm playing Lethal League, a projectile-based fighting game by Team Reptile.

The objective is to make the ball hit the opponent; the last player to hit the ball cannot be hit by it. The game supports one to four players locally or online; capable AI bots can take the place of human opposition. Each character, with varied special attacks, can swing at the ball, bunt to slow it down, or jump. Each time the ball is hit, it moves faster; swinging downward while jumping will rapidly increase the ball speed. The fast pace of the game, especially with four players involved, leads to intense matches of timing, skill, and luck. Lethal League offers a nice alternative to the typical fighting game.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

To End All Wars Gameplay Review

I'm playing To End All Wars, a turn-based grand strategy game by Ageod and Matrix Games.

Featuring only two campaigns (with either historical or user-directed warplans), one short scenario, and a tutorial, the Central Powers, Western Entente, or Eastern Entente can be commanded. The interface and game engine are showing their age, with diplomacy conducted in funky off-map boxes and slow turn resolution. Resources can be spent purchasing new units, which are grouped into containers as with other Ageod titles. Units can be ordered around the map, issuing different postures and special commands. Supply lines must be kept, and eventually new technologies can be researched. Simple diplomatic options and other decisions are also made during the course of the war. Combat has a new feature: a battle planner that allows various choices in army arrangement and strategy during conflict. The AI is competent given the complex nature of the game. To End All Wars is exactly what you would expect in an Ageod title about World War I.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Golf Club Gameplay Review

I'm playing The Golf Club, a golf simulation by HB Studios.

The fantastic course designer allows you to create an entire course in seconds, or designate waypoints for each hole while placing obstacles and scenery. Courses can be shared within the game, creating an immense library of user-designed content. The game is best played with a gamepad: there is no support for multi-click swings, and mouse input is bulky and sluggish. Shot adjustments can be made to fade or loft the ball. Driving and iron play is done well, but flop shots and chips offer underwhelming options for the short game. Putting is done purely based on feel and takes practice to master. The strong, flexible course designer highlights a competent golf simulation that needs more refined controls and better shot options when near the green.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Clockwork Empires Early Access Alpha Gameplay Preview

I'm playing the early access alpha of Clockwork Empires, a colony management game by Gaslamp Games.

This early version of the game allows you to assign work crews and designate tasks (gather resources, construct buildings, run a factory) that will be automatically undertaken by your colonists; a potentially detailed supply chain keeps your new colony afloat. Native fishpeople will attack on occasion; further supernatural forces are to be added before release. Clockwork Empires has a while to go, as it needs to add many promised features (detailed colonist memories, cults, violence, objectives, native factions, multiplayer, combat, monsters, vehicles) before its release next year.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Victory at Sea Gameplay Review

I'm playing Victory at Sea, a naval real-time strategy game by Evil Twin Artworks and Mongoose Publishing.

Featuring three campaigns set around the world during World War II and six historical battles, Victory at Sea also has custom battles where you can choose the ships in your fleet (destroyers, corvettes, submarines, cruisers, battleships, carriers, and torpedo boats). Ships can either be given generic move and attack orders or controlled directly; weapons have specific ranges and orientations that must be accounted for. Aiming is very imprecise and the AI doesn’t adhere to naval tactics and simply rushes towards the opposition. There is location-specific damage, but not until a ship is almost destroyed. The shortcomings with the AI and aiming mechanics make Victory at Sea hard to recommend.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Orbital Gear Gameplay Review

I'm playing Orbital Gear, a multiplayer side-scrolling shooter by Night Node.

Lacking bots (an issue for an indie game with typically low online population levels) and only a handful of maps, deathmatch and a team-based orbital warfare mode are available. The game features a nice selection of weapons, although most are low-fire, high-damage area-of-effect items. One utility (mines, turret, shield, or speed boost) can also be equipped. The planet-based maps work well and provide a nice hook, as players fling themselves around each level using gravity. A fast pace keeps the kill count high and the action ramped up during each match. Despite the lack of single player modes, Orbital Gear offers distinctive, brisk gameplay.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Epigenesis Gameplay Review

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

Featuring five-on-five contests, the goal is to jump across platforms and throw the ball into the goal. A single player mode is available against bots, although this is simply a practice mode as the bots aren’t great teammates and rarely exhibit competent movement across each of the game’s five maps. You also can’t issue orders to the bots, and their incompetence can prove to be frustrating. The game’s floaty physics involves a lot of jumping and missing platforms; tumbling downwards towards a respawn is a very common feature (it’s analogous to a kill), especially since shooting an enemy will accelerate them rather than causing damage. Scoring a goal earns a seed that can be planted on the map; each plant comes with an active ability and passive buff for the team. Pickups (like grappling hooks and speed boosts) are also scattered across each map. Epigenesis is a fairly innovative game with a fast pace best enjoyed online.

Friday, August 08, 2014

Elite: Dangerous Beta Gameplay Preview

I'm playing the beta of Elite: Dangerous, a space adventure game by Frontier Developments.

Currently, the game features fifty-five expansive star systems to explore by yourself or with others (plus NPCs, of course). Combat or trading missions can be undertaken, and a galaxy map shows the flow of goods across the stars. Money earned through trade, missions, or bounties can be spent upgrading your ship or purchasing a new one. Elite: Dangerous is scheduled for release by the end of 2014.

Wednesday, August 06, 2014

The Nightmare Cooperative Gameplay Review

I'm playing The Nightmare Cooperative, a roguelike strategic puzzle game by Lucky Frame.

Featuring procedurally generated levels, the goal of each map is to collect gold and reach the exit with your team of up to four characters. The trick is that all of your units perform the same single action (move up, use a special ability) each turn. This intriguing game mechanic produces a lot of strategic planning and puzzle solving to keep your team alive. Each class has a different special attribute to offer, and items to recover health, abilities, or earn bonuses can be collected. The Nightmare Cooperative offers a challenging, thought-provoking puzzle game with roguelike elements.

Monday, August 04, 2014

Machines at War 3 Gameplay Review

I'm playing Machines at War 3, a real-time strategy game by Isotope 244.

Featuring a linear campaign of over twenty levels, the game also includes a skirmish modes with several options (difficulty, landscape, allowed units, victory conditions) and randomized maps along with online multiplayer. A tutorial also teaches the basics of the game. The interface is well designed for an RTS, with quick access to buildings, units, and construction options. Scout units can auto-explore, and selecting all buildings of one type will divide unit queues. There is also a Supreme Commander-style zoomed-out view for a wider battlefield survey. Ore (collected automatically and mined from special resource locations) and power (from cells and turbines) are used to provide a host of different land, sea, air, and mega units, along with buildings and defensive turrets. Three technology tiers unlock better unit options, and research labs can grant unit bonuses. Huge battles involve interesting decisions regarding where to allocate resources: new units, research, buildings, or defenses? The AI is also a very capable opponent, easily beatable on the lowest settings but providing a stout challenge if fully enabled. Machines at War 3 is a feature-filled and inexpensive update in the real-time strategy series.

Friday, August 01, 2014

Mount Your Friends Gameplay Review

I'm playing Mount Your Friends, a physics-based competitive climbing game by Stegersaurus Software.

Beyond the primary game mode of climbing others to insurmountable heights, the game also includes vertical climbing, object collection, speed, and distance game modes to change up things. Mount Your Friends supports single player and multiplayer modes, either on the computer or online. Four buttons are used, one for each limb, and directional keys (or a stick) to move the selected appendage. Arms and legs will automatically stick to other objects, resulting in easier manipulation. The physics are predictable and plausible. Ultimately, Mount Your Friends is a  silly but well-designed physics-based game with replay value thanks to lots of game modes with others.