Thursday, December 17, 2015

CITYCONOMY: Service for your City Gameplay Review

I'm playing CITYCONOMY: Service for your City, a city service management simulation by Nano Games and astragon Entertainment.

The game involves truck-based city services, starting with garbage collection; additional but extremely similar jobs like tow truck driver and street sweeper must be unlocked. While there is multiplayer, you cannot have one person drive and another person collect items in the same truck. Jobs spawn on the city map, and each task involves driving to a specific location and tapping the “F” key to perform the designated task. Experience earned by doing jobs is spent on upgrades and unlocking additional occupations. New vehicles and buildings can be purchased with money earned by doing jobs as well. Jobs can be given to employees, but they earn no experience and the trucks they use don’t actually move around the city and perform the actual job. All of the jobs in the game are slow, repetitive, and tedious (much like a real job, I suppose); bad AI drivers make navigating around the city annoying (although you can break any traffic rule like speeding, running red lights, or driving on the sidewalk, just don’t hit any cars). CITYCONOMY: Service for your City is a poorly designed, repetitive, limited, and bland simulation.

Monday, December 14, 2015

DiRT Rally Gameplay Review

I'm playing DiRT Rally, a racing simulation by Codemasters.

The game features a large variety of events to partake in: championships (both offline, custom, and online playlists), online events (daily, weekly, monthly, and owners stages), leagues, and custom events covering the three disciplines in the game: rally, hillclimb, and rallycross. Custom events can be randomized or custom designed with different weather conditions and stage arrangements. Six detailed locations are included, with narrow circuits that clock in under ten minutes for “long” events. The graphics engine does a great job producing nice visuals at a fast rendering speed. A plethora of cars are available to race from the 60’s to today, unlocked in the campaign mode or fully available in custom events. The handling feels as right as I can imagine considering my lack of actual rally racing experience. There are also setup options for those whom which to tweak, and repairs are available every two stages during longer events. DiRT Rally is finally the realistic, feature-filled rally racing simulation aspiring drivers have craved in the DiRT series.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Just Cause 3 Gameplay Review

I'm playing Just Cause 3, an open-world action adventure game by Avalanche Studios and Square Enix.

Featuring an expansive map to explore, Just Cause 3 does not include multiplayer, although there are online leaderboards for a ton of stats that requires logging in each time the game is started. The main story can be ignored if desired (although some core game mechanics like fast travel and rebel drops are unlocked through the missions), and it features typical mission design like escort or timed scenarios. Outside of simply playing in the sandbox and tethering objects together to make them explode, Just Cause 3 has numerous villages to liberate by destroying key objects in each town (shown on the full-screen map, but no minimap), challenges like driving and wingsuit flying to earn upgrades, and random encounters. New to the game is the wingsuit, useful for covering ground while in the air, and more tethers (up to six, once unlocked through challenges). The physics engine is very solid, allowing for imaginative situations like strapping explosives to a cow, tethering it to a helicopter, and dropping it on an enemy base from above. The difficulty is significantly less punishing than before, making the game much less frustrating. I did not experience any technical issues while playing the game (a solid 70-100 FPS during gameplay, no glitches, no crashes), although other users do report issues. Like its predecessor, Just Cause 3 does get repetitive, so it’s best played on one to two hour bursts. While obviously borrowing a lot from the previous game, Just Cause 3 remains a fun physics mayhem sandbox with a handful of improvements.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Valhalla Hills Gameplay Review

I'm playing Valhalla Hills, a settlement management simulation by Funatics Software and Daedalic Entertainment.

The game features randomly generated maps on which to develop each village, with the goal to eventually engage the hostile units that spawn at the portal to the next map. A variety of production (resource collection, tool manufacturing, food production) buildings can be constructed, with extra resources required to build on a slope. Houses increase the population cap, while paths extend the network of resource delivery. Military buildings are required to fend off hostile units located within range. Although the vikings generally do a decent job performing their assigned tasks, the AI sometimes takes too long to gather the resources required to build structures or defend against enemies. Valhalla Hills features a resource chain just complex enough to keep the game interesting, although repetitive build strategy and occasionally iffy AI reduce enjoyment somewhat.