Monday, December 22, 2014

Elite: Dangerous Gameplay Review

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

Featuring online play where you can fight or team up with others located on the same server, an Internet connection is required to play, even for the single player mode. A number of combat scenarios and very basic tutorials are available within the game, although consulting third-party documentation is strongly recommended. An extremely large, true-scale, procedurally generated Milky Way (with 400 billion star systems) awaits exploration, populated with different factions and realistic supply-and-demand economics. There is no campaign or story mode, but Elite; Dangerous lacks artificial restrictions in exploring the massive sandbox galaxy. Control using the keyboard, gamepad, or a joystick are available, and the graphics and sound design are both top-notch. The slick interface displays nearby contacts, a galaxy map with route planning and color-coded trade routes, and ship attributes. Space stations provide services such as fuel, weapons and other ship components, new ships, and trading opportunities. A variety of missions are also available; in addition, mining, exploration, piracy, bounty hunting, and trade can be undertaken. Ships are geared towards combat, trade, or transport; the flight model has slow yaw (on purpose) and an optimal turning speed. Adjusting the power usage between shields, weapons, and the engine can optimize the ship capabilities, and heat management and silent running options are also available. The frame shift drive provides faster-than-light travel within and between star systems; ships can be interdicted and unidentified signal sources can be investigated. Combat relies on beam and projectile weapons; individual ship systems can be targeted, but usually overall damage is the deciding factor in a dogfight. Death results in getting the starting ship for free, or the last loadout at an appropriate cost. With well-rounded gameplay and several career options set in an immersive, impressive setting, Elite: Dangerous is a first-class space adventure game.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Metrocide Gameplay Review

I'm playing Metrocide, a top-down arcade stealth shooter by Flat Earth Games.

The goal: earn enough money by completing assassination missions to earn a ticket out of town. The game features permadeath and the inability to save your progress. The missions are very repetitive, but more tactical options open up as more weapons and items are purchased from vending machines. Numerous cops, civilians, cameras, vigilantes, and drones roam the streets, so executing the target must be done carefully. Bodies in conspicuous locations can be moved to open sewers or rivers, and the cop level can be lowered with a monetary investment. The difficulty of Metrocide is very high, but solid, if repetitive, stealth gameplay is contained herein.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Dungeonmans Gameplay Review

I'm playing Dungeonmans, a roguelike role-playing game by Adventurepro Games.

A roguelike with turn-based gameplay, randomized maps, and permadeath, Dungeonmans also features an academy that features persistent upgrades with more playthroughs. Choosing a class enables different abilities, although activating abilities of more than one class at a time is possible through experience. A bevy of randomized items can be picked up in dungeons or purchased in towns. Enemies are less varied but still numerous and they offer different challenges along the way. Dungeonmans offers very solid roguelike mechanics with a modern interface and overarching persistent upgrades.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Approaching Infinity Gameplay Review

I'm playing Approaching Infinity, a roguelike space adventure by Ibology and Shrapnel Games.

The turn-based game features quest-based victory conditions, although a game can be played until death. Each sector consists of a number of planets, stars, asteroids, space stations, NPC ships, alien embassies, and collectable items; landing on a planet provides another randomized map to explore. Items can be sold for profit or used to craft new items (weapons, shields, armor, sensors, engines). The rudimentary, low-resolution graphics and awkward interface makes navigating the game difficult, though the amount of replay value due to the randomized content is high. Approaching Infinity capably applies roguelike mechanics to a space setting, but its presentation could be more inviting.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Warhammer 40,000: Armageddon Gameplay Review

I'm playing Warhammer 40,000: Armageddon, a turn-based strategy game by Flashback Games Studio, The Lordz Games Studio and Slitherine.

The game pits the Imperium against the Orks in a series of somewhat branching campaigns, where units carry over between missions. The singular objective of capturing victory locations is repeated in each scenario. Thirty standalone missions are also available (but no random maps), along with online asynchronous multiplayer. Warhammer 40,000: Armageddon features an impressive roster of units, including infantry, walkers, vehicles, tanks, and artillery. Each unit can move and attack each turn; additional orders include rest, reinforcement, and transport use. Combat odds are displayed before committing to an attack. The AI is passable, attacking vulnerable units but never surprising with outstanding tactics. In the end, Warhammer 40,000: Armageddon feels more like a modification of Panzer Corps rather than a unique interpretation of the tabletop miniature series.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Foresight Gameplay Review

I'm playing Foresight, a real-time strategy game by Strides Interactive and KISS Ltd.

The game features three ten-mission single player campaigns and twelve maps for a skirmish mode that can be played online or against the AI. Most maps feature sectors connected by wormholes to introduce chokepoints. Foresight features only a handful of buildings (resource collectors, ship builders, and overpowered turrets) and units (scouts, fighters, bombers, and carriers) to choose from. Officers can be hired to lead fleets of ships, which increases the population cap in exchange for making the units somewhat autonomous. Units are produced rather quickly, which impacts game balance. Units will automatically gather resources and attack nearby enemies, reducing micromanagement. However, the AI isn’t quite smart enough to handle fleet automation. The enemy AI is nothing special either, launching poorly organized, intermittent groups of ships. Although the use of fleets is intriguing, the gameplay of Foresight has been hindered by lackluster AI, a lack of strategic depth, and issues with game balance.