Monday, April 24, 2017

Shock Tactics Gameplay Review

I'm playing Shock Tactics, a turn-based tactical strategy game by Point Blank Games and EuroVideo Medien.

Essentially a clone of XCOM, the single-player game features leading a team of troops across an alien world, engaging hostile troops along the way. Base building involves spending resources earned by completing missions to unlock new equipment, level up soldiers, and heal more quickly between sorties. Missions typically do not allow any friendly troops to die (they can be rescued by other units, however); doing so results in immediate campaign failure, a devastating victory condition when random numbers and lots of enemies with superior weapons are present, The turn-based combat is typical for the genre: action points are used to move and shoot, or sprint across the terrain. Special abilities can also be used, and cover is needed to survive. Most game maps have large open areas with no cover and enemies are usually dug in in defensive positions behind cover. Luckily, the AI is really stupid and will constantly get out of cover and move around for no apparent reason; simply placing your stationary troops on “overwatch” behind cover is usually enough to win each match, Because of that, there is a lack of actual tactics in Shock Tactics, and you would be better served simply playing XCOM or Xenonauts instead.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Man O' War: Corsair Gameplay Review

I'm playing Man O' War: Corsair, a naval adventure game by Evil Twin Artworks.

Set in the Warhammer universe, the game features a single player campaign where you sail between ports populated by Skaven, Orks, Dwarves, Elves, and the like, with lots of AI ships wandering about. Most money is made by undertaking quests, which typically involve attacking a specific ship or taking something to another port; quests become repetitive very quickly. You can also trade goods for a source of minor income; items manufactured by a specific port are clearly indicated, making it easier to buy low and sell high. Money can be spent on repairing, upgrading, or purchasing new ships, hiring crew (whom level up and unlock new skills), or equipping people with better weapons. Combat is typical for the setting: sail with the wind to go fast (helpfully indicated in green on the compass) and fire cannons off the side of the ship (the range of which is helpfully indicated with a giant red arrow). Ammunition types can be changed (grape shot for enemy crew, chain shot for sails), and other ships can be boarded for hand-to-hand and ranged combat. Combat is usually very enjoyable, and the AI provides a typically capable opponent. The Warhammer setting doesn’t offer a lot more than a traditional age of sail adventure game (Orks and crazy looking ships notwithstanding) and the title has nothing to do with its tabletop namesake, but Man O' War: Corsair is still a strangely compelling game despite the occasional bugs.

Forts Gameplay Review

I'm playing Forts, a physics-based real-time strategy game by EarthWork Games.

The objective is to destroy the enemy fort. The game features a campaign mode that serves as a tutorial and contains somewhat scripted scenarios, a skirmish mode that lacks random maps, a more freeform sandbox mode, and online multplayer. Once the enemy reactor is destroyed, you win. Each structure may be made out of wood or armor, with doors and ropes offering other options. Metal (collected from mines) and energy (collected from wind turbines) are used to build everything in the game, including defensive shields and sandbags. The workshop, factory, and upgrade center unlock new weapons. Those weapons include machine guns (primarily used for defense), mortars, snipers, missiles, cannons, and lasers. Since machine guns automatically fire at incoming projectiles, getting past the line of defense is tough (snipers are intended to take out machine gun emplacements). Offensive weapons must be manually fired in real time, which takes away from base building too much; you also cannot set a weapon to continually fire at a specific power and trajectory, increasing the micromanagement. Any damage can be repaired by simply holding down the “R” key and moving the mouse around; this process is too quick and results in rapid recovery before a fatal blow can be levelled. Thus, most games drag out far too long. The physics are plausible and the AI is generally a skilled opponent. Forts is a fine concept, but a number of shortcomings in gameplay (defensive advantages, repetitive aiming, fast repair) hold back ultimate enjoyment.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

FlatOut 4: Total Insanity Gameplay Review

I'm playing FlatOut 4: Total Insanity, an arcade racing game by Kylotonn and Strategy First.

The game features a career mode with car purchases and upgrades; third-place finishes in each cup (a series of races on specific tracks) is required to unlock the next set. The FlatOut mode includes a mix of non-traditional game modes, and quick play and multiplayer modes are also available. In addition to traditional races, FlatOut 4 features assault races (with powerups), carnage races (where you score is based on damage caused), a variety of physics-based stunts (including long jump, high jump, golf, and curling), and destruction derby arena modes (including capture the flag). Causing destruction will award nitro, which can be used for quick bursts of acceleration. It is sometimes difficult to tell what is considered a “solid” object and what is not (Telephone poles? Destructible. Trees? Not). The handling is a bit loose, and there is occasionally questionable physics when hitting objects, causing spins that result in poor finishes. The AI is good enough for an arcade racer, piloting through each track appropriately and being aggressive with human drivers and other AIs. While not approaching the high mark set by FlatOut 2, FlatOut 4 is certainly a competent arcade racer and successfully eliminates the odorous smell left by FlatOut 3.

Wednesday, April 05, 2017

After the Empire Gameplay Review

I'm playing After the Empire, a space strategy simulation by Goatee Games.

The game features randomized maps populated by factions with different religions, cultures, and ideals. A significant portion of the strategy involves the initial faction customization options, ensuring to choose complementary attributes. Taking place in either real-time or turn-based modes, most of After the Empire is automated (namely ship and building construction), so a lot of the interaction involves choosing the next territory to invade and where to focus defenses. Construction can be focused on specific buildings in each territory, while tax rates and government policies can be altered. The AI plays the game using the same rules you do, and does a good job maximizing bonuses to increase production and income. After the Empire plays more like a simulation than a traditional strategy game, since most of the important decisions are made before a game has begun and a lot of the mechanics are automated. That said, it can be engaging once you comes to grips with the interface and simulation rules.

Monday, April 03, 2017

Day of Infamy Gameplay Review

I'm playing Day of Infamy, a first-person shooter by New World Interactive.

The games features cooperative missions, battles involving assault and defense, and location capture on ten very detailed maps online or against occasionally competent AI bots. Each side comes with the same classes: officers who use radiomen to call in airstrikes, assault troops with submachine guns, support troops with machine guns, flamethrowers, engineers with explosives, machine gunners with heavy weapons that must be used with the bipod on the ground or a surface, snipers, and regular riflemen. Weapons appear to be well balanced, with each option useful in a different situation. As in Insurgency, supply points are awarded in a single match to unlock attachments and more equipment, but reset each new game to give everyone even footing. Gameplay is much like Insurgency as well: a fast pace and quick deaths. Bolt-action rifles, small magazines, and long reload times do make Day of Infamy play more intensely than its predecessor, however. In the end, Day of Infamy does differentiate itself from Insurgency thanks to the map quality, class variety, and World War II-era weapons.