Monday, December 18, 2017

Orbital Racer Gameplay Review

I'm playing Orbital Racer, a space racing simulation by PaweĊ‚ Dywelski and Movie Games.

The single-player-only game features checkpoint racing on twenty-four tracks in eight locations around our solar system; there are no randomized tracks, which would be seemingly easy to do in space. A career mode where race earnings can be spent on vehicle upgrades accompanies simple custom races. Handling can be done in either action or simulation mode, the latter of which has more realistic thruster-based flying and lacks powerups. The interface clearly indicates upcoming checkpoint locations for easier navigation. Powerups in the action mode are randomized and are given out every three checkpoints to all racers, which means everyone uses their weapons at the same time; a more interesting method would involve pickup locations away from the main racing line. Impact (causing damage) and EMP (causing controls to stop for several seconds) weapons come in launched missiles or dropped mines. A completely destroyed craft respawns at the last checkpoint. The AI is very good at handling both racing modes and provides a good opponent. Orbital Racer has a unique setting and simply needs some tweaks (random tracks, improved powerup distribution) to stand out.

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Post Human W.A.R Gameplay Review

I'm playing Post Human W.A.R, a turn-based strategy game by Studio Chahut and Playdius.

The game focuses on online multiplayer, although there is no asynchronous multiplayer (a notable shortcoming for a potentially small community). In addition, there are three campaigns of six missions each that lack adjustable difficulty, and practice games against the AI (or a local player) on fourteen maps (but none are randomized). Units are purchased before battle: melee, ranged, flying, and support options are available that differ in health, movement, attack range, attack strength, defense strength, and special abilities. One unit is chosen by the player as the champion: if it is killed, that side automatically loses (no matter how many other units remain). This is an intriguing concept that involves how you choose who to be the champion, who you try to make the opponent think is the champion (it is kept a secret), and who you think their champion might be. Spare resources left over from unit recruitment (and later gathered from boxes scattered across each map) can be used to buff a unit’s attributes for one turn, adding to the pre-game strategy and in-game strategic options. The enemy totem can be destroyed to cause damage to opposing units each turn; this results in quicker games with less grind at the end. The AI is very good on the higher difficulty level, as are the human opponents found online. Post Human W.A.R has interesting factions and some unique gameplay elements.

Friday, December 08, 2017

SpellForce 3 Gameplay Review

I'm playing SpellForce 3, a role-playing real-time strategy game by Grimlore Games and THQ Nordic.

The game features a decent campaign with scenarios set in very detailed locations. The skirmish mode and online multiplayer both only have six maps and three races with very slight differences in build order. The interface comes with some handy features, like a larger mini-map that displays resource locations in each sector and single hotkeys used to cast spells from each hero. Resources (wood, food, stone, iron) are automatically gathered from the environment by workers assigned to a particular building; managing the limited number of workers at each building is part of the economic strategy. Upgrading the city or outpost will unlock the next tier of structures and increase the worker population. New map sectors can be captured after eliminating the creeps contained therein; while new sectors can expand resource production, items must be physically transported from one outpost to another (all done automatically), so you can destroy caravans of other factions. Heroes cast spells, gain experience through combat to unlock new spells, and have an inventory to increase stats. Regular units contain the usual assortment of infantry, cavalry, and ranged options. Units die quickly, which gives less time to use spells during combat. There is also a lot of grind at the end of games to eliminate bases, as defenses are cheap and very effective against smaller number of units. Still, SpellForce 3 has some good ideas in the economic side of the game with worker allocation and resource acquisition that, along with the occasional role-playing feature, make it stand out in the real-time strategy genre.

Monday, December 04, 2017

Harvest Life Gameplay Review

I'm playing Harvest Life, a farm management simulation by bumblebee and rokapublish.

Starting with the same farm every game, the tutorial only explains how to chop wood. There is also no manual or other in-game help or documentation, so almost all in-game tasks are left unexplained. The graphics are very rudimentary, and annoying collisions with nearby objects occur often. A limited interface (using left-click and right-click to interact with everything) leads to a lot of input confusion (feeding the cat instead of planting crops). Harvest Life only has a few repetitive tasks: cut wood and chop it during a bland mini-game, deal with crops by planting, watering, and harvesting, feed and provide water to animals while collecting their eggs and poop, and fish if you can figure out how to acquire a rod. Items can be sold (no price fluctuations) and the money used to edit the farm by placing new tiles and animals. There is a significant amount of waiting for something to happen, as there simply isn’t a lot to do. Harvest Life is an extremely repetitive, limited, boring, and confusing farming game.