Posts Tagged ‘3.0’

1849 Review

1849 Featured

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Developer: Somasim
Publisher: Somasim
Platform: Mobile – Android, iOS PC – IndieGameStand, Steam

There is something about city management sims that hooks people. Most of us probably have no desire to ever deal with the realities of legislation, building codes, and the vast expenditures that a real city planner has to deal with. Put them in a game though and suddenly it’s fun. What if you could manage a city during the California Gold Rush? If that sounds awesome to you then you’re definitely going to want to check out 1849.

In this game, you’re the mayor of a newly settled town somewhere in Northern California. The goal is to hopefully capitalize off the sudden immigration of people as Gold Rush fever sets in. With good enough planning, the town will boom with people. Fail to provide them with the right resources though and they’ll simply move on to another town.

1849 Screenshot

Maps come in three varieties (small, medium, large) and have an isometric viewpoint. Players must build their town up with homes, wheat fields, jailhouses, and a good deal of other buildings. Many buildings require a chain of other buildings to produce any items at all. For example, you can make fancy clothes for the citizens but that requires first harvesting cotton, turning it into fabrics, then transforming the fabric into an outfit. This same style of mechanic holds true for creating wine and other specialties.

Getting all the buildings required for these types of chains is expensive, but pays off. Other towns need things that you can provide. Some may spend money for your excess fabrics and wood, while others offer to sell pickaxes to you. For the most part, players always have to manage both exporting and importing because no plot of land has everything. Sometimes, events crop up that task the player to do certain things before the time runs out.

Although it might seem a bit simpler than other games of the genre, 1849 is fairly difficult to do well in. Many of my missions ended in failure as I bought the wrong buildings or didn’t realize what other towns would want to trade for. After a while you do get the hang of things, though. It’s a total joy to see your town grow into a bustling, successful place.

1849 Featured

There are a few ways in which the experience could be improved. The view cannot be rotated, only zoomed in on. This leads to many times you can’t see where exactly to click or tell if something was placed properly. It is also unfortunate that there is no easy reference to view what chain of item creation is needed before creating specific buildings. Finally, it appears there are not multiple saves for sandbox towns, which is a definite disappointment.

Even with a handle of troubles, 1849 is a game I find myself coming back to often. The core gameplay mechanics are fantastic and easy to learn. It’s always fun to try fussing around in a new town to see how much it can expand. As such, anyone with a taste for city management games should definitely embark on a digital Gold Rush journey with 1849.

 


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Harvester Review

Harvester Featured

Harvester Boxart

Developer: DigiFX Interactive
Publisher: Merit Studios / Night Dive Studios
Platform: PC – DOS, GOG*, Steam

Harvester, along with a few other FMV adventure games, paved the way for ridiculous violence in the 90s gaming scene. Of course, this was right around the time that people began to express concern and attempt to enact legislation about violence in video games. Instead of taking on the issue in a professional manner, developers rushed to make the most foul media possible. Harvester is a tremendous product of that era and somehow still manages to be shocking.

The town of Harvest is stuck in the 50s. Women are obsessed with the PTA bake sale and little else while men appear to have their own fascination with meat. Everyone is in love with the mysterious Lodge. Steve wakes up in Harvest with no memory and realizes the townsfolk are completely out of it. He finds his supposed wife-to-be Stephanie is also aware of the disturbing nature of Harvest. Steve decides to join the Lodge in hopes of finally leaving this ridiculous town.

As this is an adventure game, there’s a ton of puzzles to solve as you point and click your way around the small town. Most aren’t too difficult but some do seem to expect solutions without ever hinting at them. One nice feature of Harvester is that it won’t let the game progress if you’ve missed out on any key items. There are a good deal of colorful townsfolk and you’ll want to talk to most of them each day, although some are best left alone (nuclear base, anyone?).

Harvester Screenshot 1

The real meat of the game is simply talking with the townspeople and seeing what ridiculous event transpires next. Everyone is just so odd that they captivate you for the hours it takes it beat the game. I was perturbed by certain characters because things have changed over the years.

Is it really a great gag when the firemen are all lisping interior decorators? No, not really, nor are other characters who refer to them in derogatory ways. There’s also Stephanie’s proclivity to wearing lingerie and nothing else multiple times during the game. If aspects such as these were left out the experience would be easier to recommend. And even so, Harvester lends itself to a car crash reaction, where you can’t help but explore it entirely despite its inherent nastiness.

Harvester is beyond the B-movie. It reaches Troll 2 levels of ridiculous and that’s why it makes you need to beat it, just to see this all through to the end. As it turns out, Steve isn’t nearly as much of a kidder as DigiFX Interactive were. Playing Harvester takes one back to an absurd era of gaming where developers would rather give legislators the finger then ever tone down their games.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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SiN Gold Review

SiN Gold Featured

SiN Boxart

Developer: Ritual Entertainment
Publisher: Activision
Platform: PC – GOG*

SiN is a very unusual game with an interesting history. Back in the 90s, people were quickly being spoiled with first person shooters. Little did players of the time realize that a landmark title was about to launch in 1998 – Half-Life. Poor SiN also wanted to be that next great game but knew they would have to compete against Valve’s creation. So, they rushed to complete the project and ship it just a few days before Half-Life’s launch. Despite that, it was SiN that ended up as a footnote in FPS history.

It’s a bit of a shame considering SiN did a lot of neat things. The storyline is mostly adequate, dealing with a main character named John Blade, corporations, and evil people with power. Yeah, it’s not the most incredible tale ever but it handles itself well as a hokey b-movie style creation. Most of what makes it impressive is purely gameplay-based.

The shooting is solid and even shows the specific damage inflicted on enemies (mostly). For example, shooting a guy in the chest will tear off a bit of the shirt and cause a mess. Shooting in the legs will make them crumple as if their legs were really injured. Overall, firefights are intense but fun. It also helps that there’s a wide variety of weapons to mess around with. Another very neat feature is the level of control given to players for accessing computers to mess with security systems and otherwise hack stuff. It doesn’t feel like a minigame so much as actually interfacing with a simplified computer which is weird but very neat.

SiN Gold Featured

As with many FPSes of the time, SiN utilizes its own random control scheme. Okay, it’s not random, but would not be considered standard today. Buttons are mapped often to correlate to what letter the word starts with. For example, the action of talking to other players being mapped to T. However, this applies to most of the functions meaning you’ll have to learn the goofy specific controls. Or, you can rebind any and all keys but it seemed like more trouble than it was worth to just get accustomed to them.

Although it was once available on Steam alongside SiN Episodes, it can now only be purchased digitally via GOG. On that storefront it includes the Wages of Sin mission pack. There’s a lot that feels really weird about SiN Gold but it’s also a pretty competent shooter. Those who love the genre today owe it to themselves to check out more obscure titles such as this one.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Goat Simulator Review

Goat Simulator Featured

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Developer: Coffee Stain Studios
Publisher: Coffee Stain Studios
Platform: PC – Steam

Out of nowhere it seems that 2014 has become the year of goat games. First there was Escape Goat 2 and now there is Goat Simulator! If you ever felt that simulator games weren’t quite niche enough then this should show you that – yes – there really is a sim for everything out there. Of course, upon playing, you’ll likely realize that the “simulation” part of the title isn’t quite accurate.

Well, I don’t know. Do goats lick everything and have obscenely long tongues? Can goats climb ladders, jump on trampolines, and wreak absolute havoc? Maybe. At least in Goat Simulator you can do all of these things, as well as perform even more ridiculous feats. Although the game isn’t tremendously expansive, it provides a hilarious experience while it lasts.

Goat Simulator Featured

As a goat, you meander around. The player can jump, lick, and ragdoll out. There’s no real story to speak of and the only goal is to complete a handful of missions. Missions ask for certain high scores or actions. Sometimes the names of said missions are funny, as are what triggers their completion. Although there aren’t a ton to play through they do offer at least an hour of gameplay. Beyond that, fun can be had screwing around with your ridiculously wobbly and sticky-tongued goat.

The sad thing is that Goat Simulator wears itself out relatively fast. At least, that’s true right now. Once Steam Workshop support really kicks off it will lend itself to many new user-created levels to enjoy. Checking out some of the best from the community is definitely recommended because the default world provided is quite small, although peppered with hilarious parts. Goat Simulator is not just the only bovid simulator out there but the funniest!


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Gigantic Army Review

Gigantic Army Featured

Gigantic Army Boxart

Developer: Astro Port
Publisher: Nyu Media
Platform: PC – Direct, Desura, GamersGate, Rice Digital, Steam

If mechs are your thing then Gigantic Army is probably already on your radar. The doujin title brings back memories of classic SNES and Genesis games, although it isn’t attempting to recreate any of those titles exactly. What Gigantic Army does best is give more realistic control of a huge robot on a 2D battlefield.

Your machine is massive and it feels the part. Each step is slow and heavy, clunking as you progress forward. This isn’t a bad thing in the least, although you might need to get used to the feel of controlling such a hefty robot. Enemies blast you continuously but most shots feel like nothing against your machine’s powerful armor. In fact, often times you can simply trod up to a weak little enemy and destroy it point blank. It’s pretty cool how powerful the game allows you to be!

Does that mean Gigantic Army is a super easy game? Not at all. Levels get progressively tougher, although if you need a better challenge you can always switch difficulty. If anything, it seems your toughest enemy is the clock. It counts down as soon as you start the stage – impatiently waiting for the player to finish. With that said, you can make the game easier (or harder) on yourself by the right selection of main and sub weapon as well. They aren’t all balanced in power levels meaning ones like the grenades are super powerful while others are far less so.

Gigantic Army Featured

The graphics paint a pretty dismal picture for the state of this war-torn world. Everything is painted in hues of brown and orange, with bullets being the most brightly-colored objects around. Enemy designs aren’t particularly inspired although bosses are still pretty neat and huge. Unlike most action shooters, this one doesn’t have a tremendously inspiring soundtrack either, which is a definite shame.

Still, Gigantic Army is a ton of fun to play. It feels great to be in control of such a powerful mech as it sprays enemies with bullets, boosts up to higher ground, and defends against weakling attacks. The ponderous movement definitely enhances the concept that you are in control the minute you enter a stage. Kicking robot butt is always entertaining and if you love that then Gigantic Army is a game you should play.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Blackwell Unbound Review

Blackwell Unbound Featured

Blackwell Unbound Boxart

Developer: Wadjet Eye Games
Publisher: Wadjet Eye Games
Platform: PC – Direct, GOG*, Steam

After playing through The Blackwell Legacy I jumped right into Blackwell Unbound. Much to my surprise, the game actually positions itself as a prequel to the first. Instead of playing as Rosa this time around you’re Lauren Blackwell, the aunt. She also lives with spirit guide Joey although she appears to have long since come to terms with her ghostly partner.

As Lauren, your goal is to investigate two apparent hauntings in the city.  This time around there are two ghosts needing help (of course, they don’t realize it themselves!). You can tackle either situation first and neither takes particularly long. Apparently, this leads to a shorter game overall as it didn’t require two hours to beat.

Blackwell Unbound Featured

Although the game is shorter, it still sheds some interesting light into the whole spirit guide and medium dynamic. We also get to learn more about Lauren from when she was living and actually quite a shift form Rosa’s more reserved nature. Unfortunately, we likely won’t get to see more of Lauren since she’s gone by the time Rosa meets Joey.

Perhaps it was due to the even shorter length, or the less interesting storyline overall, but Blackwell Unbound felt like a step back. After all, my hopes were set on progressing Rosa’s story rather than fussing around with an other character. Perhaps the stories showcased here will come back as important points in Blackwell Deception or Blackwell Convergence. If they don’t, then this game may very well be skippable for casual Blackwell fans.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Viscera Cleanup Detail: Santa’s Rampage Review

Viscera Cleanup Detail: Santa's Rampage Featured

Viscera Cleanup Detail Santa's Rampage Logo

Developer: RuneStorm
Publisher: RuneStorm
Platform: PC – Steam

Are you the type of gamer who can perform the same sort of menial task over and over again? Does it sound like fun? Although this might seem weird to many, it definitely can be fun and that is proved by playing Viscera Cleanup Detail: Santa’s Rampage. In this game, you’re tasked with cleaning up the mess Santa has left behind after a murderous rampage at the North Pole. All you’re armed with is a mop, bucket, and sensor to detect bloody bits and trash.

If nothing else, this is a pretty unique game. First-time janitors might find it a bit confusing, but there’s not much to it. After starting the job, you can choose to start mopping up the blood or disposing of bodies, bullets, and the like. No matter what you decide on, the beginning is pretty rough. Mopping requires water buckets dispensed from a machine but the water quickly gets overwhelmed with blood. Sometimes, you’ll knock the bucket over and cause a huge new blood spill. Oh, and stepping in blood at all will have you leaving a trail of fresh bloody footprints throughout the cabin.

Picking up bodies and trash aren’t exactly any easier. Although you can grab a biohazard bin from the dispenser, it has a habit of dumping out bloody bits of bodies instead. In any case, carrying that around to pick up small meaty chunks and shell casings is easier than running them one by one to the fireplace. Oh, speaking of the fireplace, that’s where you dump all the trash. After a few seconds of sitting in the fire any object will disappear. Of course, the game tells you none of this and hopes you can figure it out on your own.

Viscera Cleanup Detail: Santa's Rampage Featured

Beyond these mechanics, there’s not much to it. There is no goal beyond the one you setup for yourself, which usually is “clean/destroy everything“. Unfortunately, there are some glitches right now that make it impossible to finish. For example, TNT explosions can cause objects to be lodged behind walls which means you’ll never be able to reach them. This happened in my first complete playthrough and was a bit disheartening!

Viscera Cleanup Detail: Santa’s Rampage is under $3 and a ridiculous time-waster so it’s hard to bash it too much. I recommend playing with a partner to make the mess more manageable, although you might need to run a program like Hamachi to do it. All in all, it was a weird three hours spent cleaning digital messes and I was glad to have done it. My hope is that RuneStorm’s final product, simply titled Viscera Cleanup Detail, will expand on the concepts found in Santa’s Rampage.


Score: 3.5

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Sid Meier’s Covert Action Review

Covert Action Featured

Covert Action Boxart

Developer: MicroProse
Publisher: Tommo
Platform: PC – GOG*

Sid Meier is still a pretty well known name in the gaming world thanks to Civilization and Pirates! But that’s far from the extent of his development history. One that seems to have been forgotten by many is Sid Meier’s Covert Action from 1990. Considering how neat it was, I can’t figure out why it doesn’t receive praise today.

The player assumes the role of a CIA agent (Maxine or Maximillian) and are tasked with uncovering criminal activities on a global scale. To be a good agent, you must discover clues and track down people before they can orchestrate their plans or run away. Interestingly, Covert Action utilizes two very different types of gameplay to make this all work.

First there is the information-gathering which primarily takes the form of wire-tapping and decoding documents. Decoding itself is a fun little minigame. You can take information to have it analyzed or see what your pals at the CIA have to offer. Gathering info often requires your agent to get into dangerous circumstances. Basically, they’ll have to infiltrate enemy headquarters.

Covert Action Screenshot

Checking out enemy buildings is where the game transfers to a top-down perspective. You must explore the many rooms of buildings and hopefully hack into their machines or open their safes. Enemies will meander about and even set off alarms if they spot you. Thankfully, a minimap lets you know where enemies are so you can get the upper hand.

There is a lot about Covert Action that seems tremendously intriguing. It does show its age and isn’t going to light up many modern gamer enthusiasm, though. Shooting is fairly clunky and hideouts always seem too vast and maze-like. Also, the reward of going to the beach after catching a crook is ridiculously hokey. Oh, did anyone mention the appalling artwork? Despite all this, I can’t help being lured back in for more Covert Action cases.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Probably Archery Review

Probably Archery Featured

Probably Archery Logo

Developer: South East Games
Publisher: South East Games
Platform: PC – Steam

Video games are often hard for people who haven’t grown up with a controller in hand. Those of us who have been gaming for many years often overlook this reality. It’s only when games like QWOP or Surgeon Simulator 2013 come out that both gaming and non-gaming types can be on equal, wobbly ground. Probably Archery is another one of these extremely difficult to control games. Only this time, you’re an archer.

Probably Archery gives players control of the left and right arms of their avatar. Arms are moved pretty freely from shoulders, elbows, and even rotate wrists. Switching between shoulder or elbow control is handled via button presses, as is moving to left hand. The left hand holds a bow which means you often have to get that in the right (or rather, least horrible) position before shooting arrows.

It actually isn’t too difficult to get a feel for the control scheme if you play enough, but that doesn’t mean you’ll be hitting bulls-eye all the time. For me, it was quite hard to gauge exactly how the arrow would behave when launched. Sometimes the arc seemed too high or too low, but perhaps the realization of how it works will come to me in time.

Probably Archery Featured

The best feature of Probably Archery is that the developers crammed in multiple game modes to accompany their silly controls. You can shoot static targets or moving ones, a noose, or a swarm of strange men. Perhaps my favorite mode is where you shoot an apple off the head of a muscular man whose own head is a much larger apple. If you think that’s funny then you’ll likely love the rest of the humor inherent while playing.

With all that said, it does feel like even the variety of modes can’t cover up the fact that it’s a simple archery game with wonky controls. Multiple modes deal with the pinpoint accuracy or swarm style and there’s not much else variety to it. Still, Probably Archery is entertaining. If you end up with a copy then head into online multiplayer so I can finally play with other awful archers!


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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Strike Vector Review

Strike Vector Featured

Strike Vector Boxart

Developer: Ragequit Corporation
Publisher: Ragequit Corporation
Platform: PC – Steam

One of my earliest memories of console gaming was being exposed to Star Fox on the SNES. At the time I was simply astounded. To my youthful brain, this was a game that had CGI on par with films! It just couldn’t get any better than this – could it? Of course, over the years graphics have become much better but there hasn’t been a ton of growth in regards to futuristic aerial dogfighting. Strike Vector is one game that promises an old school feel where fast reflexes are integral. But is it just the game I was looking for?

That question is a bit silly, but only because nothing could stand up to that moment of childhood awe. All the same, Strike Vector has already developed a devoted following of skilled pilots. What have they found so enthralling? It’s likely the high level of skill required to do well in matches. Simply flying requires being able to judge distances while flying through small pathways. Fighting requires much more of the player, such as learning how to make tight turns and dodge enemy fire.

How do you learn the various tricks of Strike Vector? I must advise against jumping straight into multiplayer because you’ll likely die spectacularly (and regularly) without ever getting comfortable. Instead, head into an empty single player map. All maps are available in this mode and have no enemies, human or AI, meaning you’re free to test the capabilities of your craft and its weapons (this also means there’s no single player campaign). It might also help to learn where various item pickups are on the stage as they’ll have the same positioning online. Finally, check out the third person and cockpit viewpoints to see which works best for you.

Strike Vector Featured

Testing out the various weapon loadouts is helpful to make sure you’re comfortable with the configuration. Some people love homing missiles but others prefer to shotgun their way through enemies. Whatever the case, once you figure it out, you can spend more time on how to most effectively use those weapons instead of continually cycling through them, becoming a master of none.

Online play is hard at first because flying alone in a single player map is much different from entering an almost full match with players everywhere. It also is no help to beginners that the stages, as gorgeous as they are, happen to be fairly compact and full of small areas to fly through. There are a handful of online modes and team deathmatch is both my favorite and least favorite. That’s because when you die by crashing into a wall (so, not being harmed by an enemy) it still counts as a loss – and it’s a loss to your entire team. It’s stressful to feel like you’re the one directly contributing to a team’s failure!

If Strike Vector sounds like a ton of fun then you’re the audience they desire. Players must be willing to lose a lot and practice to become truly skilled. For more casual players this isn’t the game to pick up. It’s fast, unforgiving, and even a bit stressful when entering online matches. After deciding which type of gamer you are then you’ll know whether Strike Vector is for you.


Score: 3

3 out of 5 alpacas


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