Thursday, May 28, 2015

Earthtongue Gameplay Review

I'm playing Earthtongue, an ecosystem simulation by Eric Hornby.

By carefully managing a randomly-generated world populated with fungi and bugs, the task is to keep the ecosystem balanced and growing. Fungi (molds, pods, and mushrooms) and bugs (herbivores, detritivores, and carnivores) can be purchased using “intervention” points; the icons for these items are small and hard to distinguish. Plant spores and animals can also be moved around manually to better suit the environment, and time can be accelerated to speed up the process. Careful balance of the creatures is key to the success of the planet, and the result is a calm, inexpensive diversion.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Starlight Tactics Gameplay Review

I'm playing Starlight Tactics, a turn-based tactical combat game by Escape Hatch Entertainment.

The game features an unexciting, repetitive fifty mission campaign where ships can be purchased, repaired, and upgraded between missions using command points earned during each scenario. A limited skirmish mode is also available. The interface, designed for mobile devices (tutorials refer to tapping on the screen), allows rough adjustments to movement and firing angles. The different ship classes, from destroyers to carriers, typically rely on plasma weapons or missiles. During the turn-based combat, ships move first and then fire; clear firing indicators show whether shots will impact the enemy target. Still, there is little variation in tactics between missions. While inert in early scenarios, the AI gets ever so slightly more competitive later on. Starlight Tactics is a very light turn-based spaceship combat game designed for the casual mobile crowd.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Interloper Gameplay Review

I'm playing Interloper, a real-time strategy game by Monogon Games.

The objective is to capture 75% of the map territory, and the game is played at a fast pace. A brief campaign serves as an extended tutorial, but eleven maps are available for skirmish and online play. The minimal interface misses some traditional features like double-click selection. Fixed buildings can be captured and used to produce new units, while the Sentinel captures territory and subordinate units are used to attack and defend territory. The AI is decent at the game, but can sometimes be backed into a corner. While the pace may be too hectic for some, Interloper does have some interesting minimalist real-time strategy trappings.

Monday, May 18, 2015

Interplanetary Gameplay Review

I'm playing Interplanetary, a turn-based artillery strategy game by Team Jolly Roger.

Featuring both local and online play for up to eight players, the objective is to destroy all five enemy cities. Mined materials and collected energy are used to construct new buildings and fire weapons. Buildings can provide the aforementioned resources, along with various weapon options (railguns, missiles, and lasers), and intelligence on enemy locations; buildings must be connected to cities or existing structures. Research can be conducted to unlock new structures or upgrades to buildings and cities. Planets rotate and revolve each turn and weapons are governed by gravitational forces, both of which makes landing the perfect shot difficult. The AI is good at aiming, although the focus of the game is online play. Interplanetary offers some solid, entertaining turn-based gameplay.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Galactic Civilizations III Gameplay Review

I'm playing Galactic Civilizations III, a turn-based 4X space strategy game by Stardock Entertainment.

In addition to a campaign, the sequel includes robust game customization, as tweaking the galaxy attributes (including extremely large galaxy sizes) and pacing is encouraged. The eight different races are distinctive in their play styles and supported by varied victory conditions; custom factions can also be created easily. Galactic Civilizations III is the first game in the series to feature online multiplayer, and the game has also transitioned to a hex-based map. The interface provides quick access most of the game mechanics, although some displays would be better if they were not full-screen. Production can be divided between wealth, research, and manufacturing, which can further divided between social and military construction. Planetary structures now have adjacency bonuses, so placement on the surface matters. Shipyards are now based in space and can use production from several planets, streamlining military endeavors. The custom ship designer offers many parts to customize the look of each vessel, though the default ships aren’t too bad. Research can be completed by using a simplified display or the more traditional tree view, which now comes with a search feature. Ideological traits, based on choices make when founding new colonies, now unlock bonus attributes. Diplomatic offerings are as strong as before, and trade is a viable source of income and a good way to maintain positive relations. A typically strong AI rounds out the game. Galactic Civilizations III offers numerous meaningful improvements for fans of the series and the genre in general.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

DiRT Rally Early Access Beta Gameplay Preview

I’m playing the early access beta version of DiRT Rally, a racing simulation by Codemasters.

The game currently includes quick rally events, with a customizable lineup and weather conditions, online leagues, online events with daily, weekly, and monthly challenges, and a career mode where team personnel and cars upgrade over time. Plans for the future include the addition of hillclimb and rallycross events.

Thirty-six stages are present in three different settings. The developers have opted for more realistic circuits, with one-lane bumpy roads that always give a feeling of being slightly out of control. Events average around five minutes each, which is lengthy enough to satisfy most aspiring rally drivers.

Graphics are nice, especially precipitation effects, with detailed cars and variety track environments. Sound design is also handled well, with the informative co-driver and auditory cues on car performance.

The seventeen cars span from the 60’s to more modern options. Handling is done well, providing powerful, responsive cars that are not twitchy but still realistic and aren’t glued to the terrain. However, the damage model remains unrealistically forgiving.

Based on the already-enjoyable current state of the game, with continued improvements during development, DiRT Rally is poised to become the superior rally simulation when it is released.

Monday, May 04, 2015

Verdun Gameplay Review

I'm playing Verdun, a World War I first-person shooter by M2H Game Studio and Blackmill Games.

The online only game primarily features the frontlines game mode, where the opposing sides alternate attacking the enemy’s trenches. Experience gained during battle earns career points that are used to unlock different loadouts for each class. Each four-person squad has slightly different classes, including officers (who can call in artillery or gas strikes), assault specialists, snipers, machine gunners, and riflemen. The attack-defend flow works extremely well within the setting, and results in a compelling experience. Verdun also plays realistically with one-shot kills, emphasizing using cover and moving in groups; teamwork is necessary since most classes only come equipped with one weapon. Those looking for a unique, brutally realistic online shooter will be quite pleased in the trenches of Verdun.