Friday, August 17, 2018

Forged Battalion Gameplay Review

I'm playing Forged Battalion, a real-time strategy game by Petroglyph and Team17.

The game features a lazy and tedious campaign with a bland story that simply features more enemy factions simultaneously fighting as you progress. The skirmish modes (both online and against the AI) only has fifteen maps and no procedural map generation, though more are available on Steam Workshop. Experience points earned by playing any game mode are used to unlock new weapons and create custom units with different weapons and armor. Only four units are available for each chassis (infantry, light vehicle, heavy vehicle, aircraft) and more advanced units can only be built when high-level structures have been placed, which helps to balance out those who have unlocked more items. Forged Battalion is a simplified real-time strategy game, though that does make it more approachable: constructing units is fast and efficient with the handy keyboard shortcuts, and placing additional factories speeds up production at your main hub. Structures can only be placed near existing ones unless an outpost is captured, making enemy building placement predictable. The limited unit roster and building selection does result in a repetitive build order, with the same options executed every game. The AI is barely passable and only mounts a challenge when they outnumber you. A disappointing campaign, limited content, and oversimplified mechanics subdue the custom unit creation features of Forged Battalion.

Friday, August 10, 2018

Madden NFL 19 Gameplay Review

I'm playing Madden NFL 19, an American football simulation by Electronic Arts.

The first PC version of Madden in 11 years, this edition is likely not as mod friendly as in the past, but performance on the PC is smooth and flexible. The game features an underwhelming “longshot” story mode, one-off exhibition games with generally lag-free online play, an “ultimate team” mode where player cards are purchased using in-game cash or real money to assemble a team, and a franchise mode with weekly gameplay strategy training, free agency, draft, player experience upgrades, and flexible game simulation options (including my favorite: you can play only important game events like 3rd downs and red zone trips). Madden NFL 19 comes with three game styles: simulation, high-scoring arcade, and a competitive mode that favors user input for jukes, stiff arms, and the like. The AI skill level can also be adjusted, from “fair” to “clearly cheating”. Controls involve a host of buttons to adjust pre-play hot routes, defensive line shifts, jukes, aggressive catches, power moves, dive tackles, and lots of others. While the commentary gets repetitive quickly, Madden NFL 19 has some nice details like occasionally very detailed comments and player-specific celebrations. The AI provides a good opponent if you’d prefer not to match up against random humans online. While Madden NFL 19 is not wholly different for players of recent console versions, its reappearance on the PC is welcome and it’s still an enjoyable game to play with an acceptable list of features.

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Circle Empires Gameplay Review

I'm playing Circle Empires, a real-time strategy game by Luminous and Iceberg Interactive.

The game features procedurally generated maps that varies the resources and enemies in each region, the quantity of which depends on the difficulty level. Leaders provide different starting resources and bonuses when capturing a new territory. The main game mode involves finding and killing an enemy boss, but a full conquest mode and games against AI empires are also available. Food, wood, and gold are collected and used to recruit new units, build defensive structures, or unlock upgrades. Circle Empires has a good roster of available units, and the composition of your army largely depends on which resources dominate the map you are playing on. Unit control can become cumbersome as units overlap; friendly units will also occasionally ignore enemies that are located in the same circle, and the game could use an attack move order. Circle Empires becomes very challenging on higher difficulty levels due to the large initial enemy count. Despite limited shortcomings involving the user interface, Circle Empires is an approachable real-time strategy game that has high replay value thanks to its randomized map layouts.