Thursday, July 31, 2014
Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Stranded in the arctic, the commander must lead his team of engineers and survive the dangerous nights in the Great White North. Supplies must be carried to the power core, where they are used to power radios (to call in mining equipment and make money for upgrades), heaters, the infirmary, and the canteen. Wildlife can be killed for food, medicine, and supplies as well. The interface doesn’t allow quick access to the engineers (either through a master list or box-selecting), a notable hinderance as the game moves at a quick pace. The commander can be controlled directly, using the WASD keys to move and the mouse to aim and shoot. Outpost is very difficult, with multiple things to manage (engineers, power, monsters) simultaneously. Outpost offers an intriguing mix of management and survival in an overly challenging environment.
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Monday, July 28, 2014
Featuring two campaigns concerning two of the races from the Sword of the Stars universe, the game also features a skirmish mode against the AI on ten maps, comprehensive tutorials, and asynchronous multiplayer where Steam will let you know when it’s your turn. The interface is designed with mobile devices in mind (lacking tool-tips and displaying at a fixed, windowed resolution). Cards drawn from a custom deck can grant improved or special abilities during gameplay. Action takes place over several phases: units are placed, cards are discarded, supply lines are determined, units are given improved attack ratings by distributing ice rolls, and, finally, movement and combat. Infantry, armored, artillery, and air units can have special attributes, like engineering or transportation. Ground Pounders uses supplies, unit control zones, terrain modifiers, fog of war, reaction fire, and support fire during each scenario. Detailed combat results are somewhat randomized, and the AI is good at picking out favorable combat matchups. Ground Pounders is a mix of some advanced strategy features with approachable sensibilities that would have benefited from more varied, or randomized, scenario design.
Friday, July 25, 2014
Featuring cross-platform (Windows, Macintosh, Android, and iOS) multiplayer, this top-down World War II game has a campaign where you must capture all territories on the map by moving ships one zone per turn. Prestige points earned from your captured territories can be spent on new ships with customizable weapon layouts. Although you cannot attack from multiple zones simultaneously and there is no indication of unmoved ships, the campaign mode can be entertaining. Battleships, carriers, cruisers, destroyers, and frigates take to the high seas equipped with standard artillery, anti-air weapons, and torpedoes. Battle Fleet 2 uses angles and power adjustments to fire the weapons, producing tense gameplay reminiscent of Scorched Earth or Worms. Location-specific damage, airstrikes, fog of war, and strategic command cards round out the turn-based battle features. The AI is woefully passive on the campaign map, but does put up a decent fight in the battles, although it handles terrain poorly. Battle Fleet 2 is a light, but satisfying, game with some thought-provoking gameplay.
Wednesday, July 23, 2014
The game features a career mode where you pick a boxer and enter progressively harder round-robin tournaments. Timing mini-games in the gym (or cold, hard cash) are used to increase strength, stamina, or speed. Quick matches and online play are also available. Real Boxing supports several control options to throw punches: cumbersome keyboard input, or buttons or the right analog stick on a gamepad. Stamina prevents you from punching too often, and two knockdowns when your health reaches zero usually results in a knockout. You can block punches or tap the same button to dodge and counter a blow. Clinching (hugging) an opponent to recover health wastes an incredible amount of time with its stalemating button-mashing mini-game. While the AI fighters are challenging opponents, the repetitive commentary and knockout-heavy results inhibit realism. While the button-mashing mini-games and other assorted oddities of Real Boxing prevent it from being the world champion, the fan-friendly price does make it a contender.
Monday, July 21, 2014
Friday, July 18, 2014
Featuring local two-player cooperative play, the action-oriented title involves defending a Martian colony against countless shuffling foes. The control scheme is conventional for a top-down game, and the minimap is useful in spotting enemies that are off-screen. Between missions, stats can be upgraded and perks can be earned from XP earned during each patrol; in addition, weapons and items can be purchased. Deadstone also allows you to place defensive mines and turrets on the barren landscape before a patrol begins. While pistols have unlimited bullets, rifles, shotguns, and other weapons have distressingly limited ammunition. A lot of time is spent reloading the weapons, and careful ammo management is a key to survival. The enemies are stereotypically slow, dumb zombie-like creatures, with the occasional exception. The methodical pace and repetitive action of Deadstone lessens the appeal of this top-down action game.
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
I'm playing Instant Dungeon!, a dungeon exploration game by with the love studios and Flying Interactive.
Monday, July 14, 2014
Friday, July 11, 2014
I'm playing Battleplan: American Civil War, a real-time wargame by The Mustard Corporation and Osprey Publishing.
During linear ten-mission campaigns and very fast-paced single quick battles, three objective locations must be captured. The interface has numerous issues: selection and movement orders are commonly confused, vague unit portraits don’t easily identify unit type, units will build extraneous time-consuming pontoon bridges immediately adjacent to existing fords or bridges (especially when issued group-move orders across a river), there is no indication when valuable reinforcements arrive, and tool-tips are non-existent. Basic unit types (infantry, cavalry, and artillery), along with a commander unit and supply wagon, are available. Unit experience, morale, exhaustion, and leader aggressiveness can impact their performance and actions during battle. Movement orders are done by selecting a unit and dragging out a path with the mouse; units will attack automatically. Orders travel from the commander to units by courier and may be refused or delayed. Commanders can also rally nearby units, artillery units are affected by the wind and terrain, and idle forces can create temporary defenses. Alternating between active and passive, the AI noticeably waits for pre-scripted events to coordinate an attack. A budget-priced light wargame designed with tablets in mind, Battleplan: American Civil War has some advanced concepts at a heightened pace, but spotty AI and a troublesome interface.
Wednesday, July 09, 2014
Monday, July 07, 2014
I'm playing Pro Cycling Manager / Le Tour de France 2014, a bicycling management simulation by Cyanide Studio and Focus Home Interactive.
The game involves riders and events from across the globe for the current year. In the career mode, one real or custom team is managed by adjusting the staff, fitness and training schedule, yearly rider objectives, sponsor objectives, equipment research and development goals, rider transfers, and scouting. Single multi-race tours, individual stages, classic races, track events, and multiplayer are also available. The 3D races play out much the same as before, although consecutive orders (what to do after the current order is completed) and automated race tactics are new features. Other than those two new features, the interface is the identical to the one used the past several years, allowing for adjustments to rider effort level and orders like attacking, defending, maintaining position, or fetching water. The AI is good enough and the races play out plausibly. Pro Cycling Manager 2014 continues the sports game tradition of releasing a full-priced edition every year with minimal changes.
Friday, July 04, 2014
Featuring randomly generated maps to explore and permadeath (items are lost but stats are not), the game has several classes with varied starting abilities and skill levels (damage, dodge, and health) that can be increased with scrap metal. You can use the other resource, crystals, to forge new helmets and weapons, spawn a pet companion, or purchase single-use items. The polished interface shows nearby loot and enemy locations. An ever-growing blight keeps you moving towards the teleporter at the end of each level, and events keep things dynamic. A good variety of enemies, along with lots of items to discover, round out this pleasing roguelike.