Monday, August 29, 2016

Worms W.M.D. Gameplay Review

I'm playing Worms W.M.D., a turn-based strategy game by Team17.

The newest entry in the venerable Worms series includes training missions, campaign scenarios, challenges, local multiplayer skirmishes on random maps, and online ranked and unranked matches. Customizing the team comes with fewer options than before, although the game rules can be tweaked multiple ways. The same general gameplay survives, but several significant new features are present. First, weapons can be crafted, either from parts taken from crates or from existing weapons that are dismantled. This allows for new or more powerful versions of weapons to be created, and allows for some adaptation to the current game situation. Buildings can be entered, which protect and hide worms from the enemy. Vehicles are also new, with rocket cars, tanks, and helicopters able to grant fast movement and mobile attacking. Finally, stationary turrets give additional firepower to the battlefield. All of these new features can be disabled in the game rules, so they are completely optional. The AI is a capable opponent on higher difficulty levels. With meaningful additions to the game mechanics, Worms W.M.D. is the best version of the turn-based strategy series to appear in years.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

SkyBoats Gameplay Review

I'm playing SkyBoats, a turn-based strategy game by BrainGoodGames.

The goal is to earn victory points by selling goods at specific cities before time runs out. The game features randomly generated maps; successfully completing a map results in the next round being more difficult (usually a higher victory point requirement). The interface is decent, although an indication of which cities demand certain goods could be more clear. Goods stored in each cargo hold can be used once to place wind patterns on the map that aid with movement (both saving fuel and providing an income bonus when used frequently). Empty cargo holds can also provide other powers each turn (such as additional fuel). In each city, credits earned from selling goods can be used to spawn new goods, purchase ship upgrades, refuel, or sign lucrative contracts. Ending each turn allows for every cargo hold to be used again. Successfully placing cooperative wind patterns and seeking out the best goods is the key to success. With approachable game rules and random maps that increase replay value, SkyBoats is an interesting turn-based game with multiple layers of strategy.

Monday, August 22, 2016

F1 2016 Gameplay Review

I'm playing F1 2016, a racing simulation by Codemasters.

The game features an enhanced career mode that takes place over ten seasons. Specific race goals are dependent on the strength of the team, and driver rivalries develop over time. A very neat feature is practice objectives: performing specific tests (like learning the track, conserving tires, or going on a qualifying run) will earn research points that can be spent on upgrading car parts. It is a welcome feature that gives a purpose to practice other than simply turning laps. In addition to the career mode, single seasons, quick races, time trials, and online multiplayer with full twenty-two car fields are available. A number of minor new features (the Azerbaijan street circuit, new Haas team, a formation lap, manual race starts, manual pitting, and the safety car) are also added for this year’s version. Racing physics are plausible, including tire wear, handling, and damage. Driving assists can be adjusted to support a wide range of player abilities, and flashbacks can be used to rewind time if needed. AI drivers are appropriately aggressive. F1 2016 is a slick, feature-complete simulation perfect for the racing aficionado.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Meridian: Squad 22 Gameplay Review

I'm playing Meridian: Squad 22, a real-time strategy game by Elder Games, Headup Games, and Merge Games.

The single-player only sequel has a campaign with a decent story and difficult missions featuring lots of enemies. A series of skirmish games comprises the planetary conquest mode, and short squad missions are also available. The interface does now show idle worker units, but it sometimes indicates units are idle when they are simply pausing to collect resources. It is difficult to tell the difference between friendly and enemy units at a glance, and units sometimes do not engage enemies just outside of range. The economics has the same three resources, and general strategy involves the same generally inflexible (because of the resource requirements) build order, although a larger quantity of units is available.  Outside of slightly improved graphics, a new campaign, and the conquest mode, Meridian: Squad 22 is the same real-time strategy experience.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Frozen State Gameplay Review

I'm playing Frozen State, a  roguelike survival game by Flox Studios.

The game takes place in a cold realm populated with hostile creatures. Randomly generated buildings and loot add replay value and a little bit of luck. The interface could be improved: while using multiple information screens (such as the map and crafting) simultaneously is a nice feature, there are confusing limitations on what can be interacted with in the game world. The camera and movement controls are very sluggish and limited, and the item list could also use more filters. In addition to dealing with hostiles, characters must keep warm, eat, drink, and rest. Some multi-step crafting recipes are present, so repetitive scavenging for resources is required. Combat is tedious and boring, with a lack of blocking and dodging. Frozen State has an intriguing setting for a survival game, but it is hindered by poor controls, a substandard interface, and bland combat.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Axis Football 2016 Gameplay Review

I'm playing Axis Football 2016, an American football simulation by Axis Games.

The game features quick matchups against the AI or in coaching mode (where only plays are called); games can be customized according to weather conditions and quarter length. A simple franchise mode consists of twelve games against randomized opponents (that can repeat with no rhyme or reason). Mod support is strong, with easily editable rosters, uniforms, and logos. An improved user interface makes calling plays look and perform better. Updated graphics and improved (though still repetitive) commentary are also new this year. There are only eight plays for each formation (a slight improvement over last year’s six), but hot routes make for more flexible options. Mouse-based passing remains engaging, where a portion of the field is aimed at instead of a specific player. Kicking controls are improved and appropriately difficult. Axis Football 2016 lacks a play clock (time runs down a specific amount between plays) and does not have player fatigue, eliminating substitutions during a game. The simulation is much better this year, resulting in more plausible results. In short, Axis Football 2016 is a vast improvement over last year’s iteration.

Thursday, August 04, 2016

Lovely Planet Arcade Gameplay Review

I'm playing Lovely Planet Arcade, a first-person shooter by QUICKTEQUILA and tinyBuild Games.

The game’s levels are divided up into four acts, which gradually introduce more complex enemy types. Levels cannot be skipped if they prove to be too difficult, and the game also lacks a level editor. Like the original first-person shooters, Lovely Planet Arcade does not have any vertical aiming, instead relying on precision timing and aiming to dispatch enemies quickly and efficiently. Most levels have a designed solution regarding whom to engage and in which order, so a majority of the game is learning what that order is. Different enemy types may come with special abilities (like pausing time or warping location) that must be used to advance to the next level. Lovely Planet Arcade is a generally effective, straightforward, and difficult skill-based retro shooter.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Concealed Intent Gameplay Review

I'm playing Concealed Intent, a turn-based strategy game by Jarrah Technology.

The game features a 17-mission campaign of fairly challenging scripted scenarios; ship items carry over from mission to mission, so losing a lot of equipment will add difficulties later on. A robust skirmish mode includes multiple game rules and custom ship loadouts for high replay value. Online games are also available. Concealed Intent features a great interface that makes it easy to find ships in the 3-D maps. A list of all friendly and sighted enemy ships can be used to find and target specific vessels, while off-screen ships are indicated with arrows. Orders can be issued with hotkeys or the mouse. Graphs show weapon effectiveness over range, and clear hit chances are displayed. The gameplay focuses on scanning and identifying enemy ships, while preventing detection of your own. Every action (moving, shooting, scanning) increases a ship’s signature, which makes it easier to the enemy to identify it. Thus, deciding which actions to perform each turn and when to use countermeasures to decrease ship signature is key. Probes and drones are the preferred method of scouting for the enemy, allowing for your ships to reveal and engage later. The turn-based gameplay gives you time to think. The AI is decent, although it seems to “give up” easily and stop moving before it is defeated. Concealed Intent is a very effective turn-based strategy game, thanks to its feature set, ship ability variety, and detection-based gameplay.