Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Townsmen Gameplay Review

I'm playing Townsmen, a city management simulation by HandyGames and Headup Games.

The game features eighteen challenging scenarios with scripted quests and sixteen more freeform sandbox levels. Coming over from mobile devices, Townsmen does offer some PC-centric interface enhancements, although the lack of tool-tips and wacky road building procedure are disappointing. Buildings are placed to collect resources, produce food, manufacture items, and meet the needs of the villagers. Using prestige will instantly build any structure, bypassing the usually steep resource requirements. Some key buildings (such as the marketplace and church) are entirely too expensive to build, resulting in a lot of waiting for resources to accumulate instead of doing something meaningful. There are some moderately sophisticated resource chains involved (wheat to flour to bread, as a typical example), and excess resources can be sold at the marketplace (assuming you can afford to build one, of course). Happier citizens, made so by meeting food, water, and entrainment thresholds, work harder and can be taxed more. Nearby bandits can be eliminated by building a network of barracks and guard towers. Completing quests earns prestige, and upgraded buildings can be researched. Terrible early-game resource balancing and some interface limitations aside, Townsmen is a decent city builder.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Killing Floor 2 Gameplay Review

I'm playing Killing Floor 2, a first-person shooter by Tripwire Interactive.

Designed for online cooperative play, the game also supports less desirable offline play. A nice selection of twelve fairly large, detailed levels is available; enemies spawn near the team during each wave, and chokepoints are present to funnel the enemy threat. Each of the ten classes has a selection of different starting weapons, preferred weapons to upgrade to during the match, and passive perks to help out the team. The classes include melee-focused, support, area attack, and ranged options, giving all types of players something to choose. Ten enemies, some with special abilities must be dispatched of during each wave. Doors may be welded to hold back the horde, while healing syringes can stave off untimely death. Each map has preferred, more easily defensible locations, and while the quantity and specific arrangement of enemies is different every playthrough, you still encounter the same types each game. That said, the chaos of combat is confusing and exciting. Killing Floor 2 is an enjoyable, albeit repetitive, gore-filled cooperative first-person shooter.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Planet Coaster Gameplay Review

I'm playing Planet Coaster, a theme park management simulation by Frontier Developments.

The game features twelve scenarios with starting layouts, varied terrain, and different objectives. In addition, there are sandbox and challenge missions, which take place on flat terrain that is not randomly generated, a bit disappointing. A strong aspect of the game is Steam Workshop integration: it is easy to find and import lots of custom rides, buildings, and scenery made by other users. All of these items were made in-game using the creation tools, which allow for a wide variety of impressive structures. Coasters, monorails, trains, log flumes, river rapids, and gentle and thrill rides can be added to the park, each with ratings for excitement, fear, and nausea that will appeal to different guests. Each guest travels in groups that have different needs and desires while in the park, and make comments to assist in future design decisions. Shops for food, drink, and souvenirs will satisfy the varied needs of the guests. New rides and buildings can be researched in the non-sandbox modes, staff can be hired and leveled-up, and marketing drives can be purchased to increase attendance. While the management aspects of Planet Coaster are fairly easy to master, the creative elements of the game make it a compelling theme park management simulation.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

The Ship Remasted Gameplay Review

I'm playing The Ship Remasted, a first-person shooter by Blazing Griffin.

This new version brings new graphics and some minor game rules tweaks (namely longer sleeping requirements). Online play is preferred because the AI bots don’t hide their intentions well enough to produce compelling offline gameplay, though the number of players online have been small. The game mechanics remain intriguing: money is earned by killing a target; the cash amount is determined by how rarely used that particular weapon is. This encourages swapping out weapons and not sticking to any specific item for the entire game. Your target’s location on the ship is updated every 30 seconds, and there is also a player hunting you. While this is going on, needs (such as sleep, drinking, going to the bathroom, taking showers, talking to others, reading books) must be taken care of as well; these cause periods of vulnerability that make it easier to kill your quarry. Being spotted with a weapon by security or other players can result in a fine and jail time, although security can be bribed. The core gameplay remains very fun, although The Ship Remasted has some technical issues (attacking while sprinting doesn’t seem to be effective, and some graphical glitches are present, such as the occasional inability to see other passengers). If these issues are resolved, then The Ship Remasted would become an acceptable update to an outstanding game.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Transport Fever Gameplay Review

I'm playing Transport Fever, a transportation management simulation by Urban Games.

The game features two campaigns of seven missions each (one for the US, one for Europe) in addition to the randomized maps that were featured in the last game in the series (Train Fever). The interface could use some minor enhancements, namely showing goods production when making lines and making tracks connect more easily. Ferries and airplanes are new in Transport Fever, although they accomplish the same task of transporting people or goods around the map. Tracks or roads may be placed for trains and buses, stops and stations are positioned, lines are laid out, and depots are purchased to house the vehicles. There is a fairly sophisticated production chain in the game, and taking advantage of it to transport the flow of goods to its appropriate destination is the core of the gameplay. Transport Fever has an extremely slow pace even on the fastest setting, so there can be significant waiting for additional funds once the starting lines are designed. Transport Fever is improved over its previous iteration due to its scripted scenarios and additional transportation options, and should appeal to transportation management fans.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

Political Animals Gameplay Review

I'm playing Political Animals, a turn-based strategy game by Squeaky Wheel and Positech Games.

Game customization options include candidate selection (including traits and special abilities), political platforms, game map (caricatures of real-world locations), staff members, and opponent. A variety of map overlays are available to show different data, but some areas of the map are crowded. Funds and logistics (actions per turn) are used to execute orders: move to a new district, rally to promote a specific issue, campaign for votes, buy a gift to increase a patron’s rating, raise funds, bribe for votes, or a special action. Higher patron ratings make fund raising, campaigns, and other actions more effective in a district, while captured districts (80% patron ratings and 80% of the vote) are harder for the opposition to claim. Beyond initially claiming a couple of districts, strategy involves promoting issues in additional districts to persuade undecided voters and taking advantage of enemy scandals to swing the vote. Events create unpredictability that can unravel any strategy. The AI is good at the game, although it does perform unncessary actions (like performing actions in districts they can’t win, or raising money on the last turn). Although the theme makes it look like a casual game, Political Animals does have some sophisticated political gameplay.