Friday, February 27, 2015

Robot Roller-Derby Disco Dodgeball Gameplay Review

I'm playing Robot Roller-Derby Disco Dodgeball, a first-person sports game by 82 Apps.

Featuring single-player action against bots along with online multiplayer, the game has several dodgeball-inspired game modes, including deathmatch, score attack with a focus on trick shots, last man standing, king of the hill, capture the flag, and throw-through-the-goal. Ten maps, along with game modifiers and quality music, round out the features. Sluggish movement speeds (otherwise it would be entirely too difficult to hit anything) make for a methodical game rather than a festival of chaos. Robots can sprint, jump, and catch enemy dodgeballs, while powerups are available for varied temporary abilities. Robot Roller-Derby Disco Dodgeball is a nice adaptation of dodgeball mechanics with multiple game modes and a thumping soundtrack.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Exodus Wars: Fractured Empire Gameplay Review

I'm playing Exodus Wars: Fractured Empire, a turn-based strategy game by Membraine Studios.

With short (five mission for each of the two factions), linear campaigns, a skirmish mode with only three maps, woefully insufficient video tutorials, and no multiplayer, Exodus Wars: Fractured Empire lacks compelling features. The drab interface makes it difficult to quickly alter orders and prides itself on imprecise unit movement; it is also impossible to tell the difference between destroyed enemies and units that have already moved. Company-sized units consist of infantry and mechs (or tanks, depending on which side you play). Units can be ordered to move then shoot, rapidly move a great distance, shoot more accurately, overwatch an area, regroup, or assault. Orders can fail, an annoying game mechanic that introduces a significant amount of random luck. Units can be suppressed, reducing their effectiveness. The AI is poor at taking objectives quickly. Exodus Wars: Fractured Empire is a bland strategic experience with few, if any, redeeming attributes.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Escapists Gameplay Review

I'm playing The Escapists, a prison break adventure game by Mouldy Toof Studios and Team17.

The game contains several prisons that are unlocked in order after successfully completing the previous scenario. Features could be better: the low-resolution display cannot be changed, progress is only saved at night, and controls are inconsistent. While an escape plan is hatched, the daily routine (meals, roll call, exercise, showering) must be adhered to or the guards will increase their ire. Missions can be completed for the other prisoners, earning some cash and improving relationships. Stats can be improved by working out or reading; cash earned by undertaking a job can be spent on a number of weapons and items that can be crafted together. While offering some depth thanks to the variety of tools and interactions with other characters, the features of The Escapists leaves some room for improvement.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Frozen Cortex Gameplay Review

I'm playing Frozen Cortex, a turn-based sports strategy game by Mode 7 Games.

Featuring a number of customizable single player modes, along with asynchronous multiplayer and league support, the game is a combination of American football and rubgy. Each match takes place on a randomized map of blocks placed to prevent movement. The goal is to score a touchdown (for seven points) by advancing the ball into your end zone by passing (up to three times per possession) or running. Optional score zones are also scattered on the field, awarding two points each. The intuitive interface allows players to pass, run, and pause movement easily. Stopped players will automatically block and tackle opponents or intercept a nearby pass; thus, defensive strategy involves placing stationary at the various chokepoints on the map, while the offensive team needs to circumvent these pitfalls. The AI is quite adept at the game rules, providing a good challenge in most single-player modes. Frozen Cortex is a highly recommended title that offers deep, approachable tactical gameplay with high replay value.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Cities XXL Gameplay Review

I'm playing Cities XXL, a city building simulation by Focus Home Interactive.

A single-player game, Cities XXL does not feature random maps but does have nearly seventy large spaces. The interface provides useful information on what each group of residents require, and highlights areas of concern across each city. The achievement notifications are outrageously annoying, however. The enjoyable free-form construction allows you to make interesting, non-square cities quickly, placing roads, housing, industry, commerce, utilities, services, and parkland. However, all of these features were present in previous version of Cities XL, and the “new” features (improved performance, environmental strucutres, Steam workshop integration) are underwhelming. While not a bad game and certainly the best in the series, Cities XXL is an absolutely unnecessary sequel in the city building series.

Monday, February 09, 2015

Freaking Meatbags Gameplay Review

I'm playing Freaking Meatbags, a real-time tower defense strategy game by Wild Factor.

Featuring fifteen scenarios that offer a mix of resource collection, tower defense, and action, money earned during each mission can be spent on new items to builds and upgrades to existing units. The disloyal humans gain experience over time based on their actions; high-level personnel can be recruited for the next mission in the campaign. Additional manpower can be gained by fusing two humans in a DNA chamber; the result will incorporate the XP of his or her “parents”. A variety of attack and defense buildings can be placed to defend against the nightly raids, and the robot avatar can be controlled directly, equipped with various weapons. Thanks to the recruitment model and action-oriented missions, Freaking Meatbags adds some unique features to the typical tower defense formula.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Human Extinction Simulator Gameplay Review

I'm playing Human Extinction Simulator, a turn-based strategy game by Machine 22.

The game features twenty-seven scenarios along with seven skirmish-like games where you can pick your ships. Every scenario is extremely challenging, with multiple layers of tactical considerations to make. The informative interface displays the range of your weapons and the possible squares the enemy can target during their turn: an extraordinarily helpful guide. The turning radius and weapon arcs for each ship are important; good tacticians will find holes in the enemy’s movement and weapon ranges. While the AI does stumble into sticky situations it could have avoided, it plays well most of the time. If you can get past the unforgiving difficulty, Human Extinction Simulator offers some deep tactical gameplay.

Monday, February 02, 2015

Dying Light Gameplay Review

I'm playing Dying Light, a zombie survival game by Techland and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment.

The game features a main storyline with side quests and challenges. Online cooperative play is supported, but technical issues (hard lock-ups) plague public games (playing with friends, and lower ping, has fared better) and framerate problems have been reported. Night offers more aggressive zombies, and a “be the zombie” mode offers asymmetric play. Not just a neat gimmick, parkour allows the protagonist to avoid ground-based zombies by leaping between buildings and other objects, injecting a sense of gracefulness to the violence. Experience gained by completing campaign missions, jumping around, or swinging blunt objects unlocks new skills. Weapons are almost exclusively melee in nature; durability degrades over time, so items must be repair or replaced. Looting buildings is important, as components can be used to craft health, lockpicks, and other items. Expensive high-level weaponry can also be purchased from shops. Enemies offer some variety (especially at night), and the combination of brutal weapons and quick movement can produce some engaging gameplay. A logical improvement over Dead Island, Dying Light is an adequate title with some technical limitations.