Archives for : RTSs

Sengoku Preview Review

On Sept 13th 2011, Paradox Interactive will be releasing Sengoku for the PC. Sengoku is a strategy game that takes place during the Feudal wars of Japan. It’s big thing is that it takes a different approach to the genre than most games. It’s not all about battles although they have their place..To take Japan in this game will take a lot more cunning than that.

So let me start of first by saying that this game is not for the casual strategy gamer. It is complex and political and takes some strategies you may not be used to employing. A lot of the game play is through your relationships with leaders of other clans as well as members within your own clan. With all the clan leaders out to take the position of the new shogun, You have to decide is that going to be you or are you just helping someone else out. It’s your responsibility in the game to lead your clan to victory.

Unlike a lot of strategy games there are no actual difficulty levels in this game. The difficulty is decided by the clan you pick at the start of game. As you look through the different clan leaders you will see the difficulty level the game would be by playing said clan. It’s not that the game is harder or easier on you in AI it is just that some clans are already established at the beginning of the game while others are already at war and may be losing. A number of factors are at play so choosing a clan with a high difficulty is pretty much starting with a clan that is at the bottom of the totem pole. With so many clans to chose from this really gives you an opportunity to see many sides with the game.

Now what makes this game stand out is the honor system. Everything you want to do will come down to money and/or honor. If you have a neighbor that you want to get rid of but he has never attacked you, to do it your going to have to pay honor.  If your honor is too low you may be asked to commit seppuku (ritual suicide) in order to restore some sense of honor to your remaining clan. This is especially important because if the clan leader you are playing dies by any means, you will take the role of the clan’s successor. In Sengoku you will arrange marriages for your children with the children of other clan leaders to forge bonds as well as create a proper succession. All while attempting to keep your honor high enough to do the things you need or want to accomplish.

With everything from choosing a clan religion to hiring ninjas to perform acts you don’t want to be credited for Sengoku has a lot to offer. Once you get the hang of what is happening on how to perform these tasks yourself, you can find that there is a great deal of strategy in this game. Although this may take a few rough starts where you feel completely helpless and overwhelmed with the options and controls. The menu system isn’t the easiest thing to maneuver and I make a strong recommendation to reading the manual and watching the video below for assistance in getting a grasp of the game.

While the game plays with time constantly passing and you taking your actions in real time. This can become problematic so you can speed up or slow down and even pause time. This allows you to set up a number of actions all at once as well as take a look around at what is going on throughout the rest of Japan. If it wasn’t for the ability to pause time to issue out commands I am sure I would have completely drowned in the interface.

I will say that Sengoku is not about great graphics. You don’t go down to the battlefield to control your troops in battle, so if that is what you want in a game you will be disappointed here. From my experience graphics are not what makes a great strategy game. So if you can get a handle on the menu system and ignore the fact that this isn’t the best visual experience, you will be in for a different style of war and strategy.

In the end I highly recommend this game to serious strategy gamers. I give it a 4 out of 5, but I think the casual gamer may struggle with this one, I did at first. Don’t give up though and once it all starts clicking this game is really fun.

Sengoku comes out on Sept 13th 2011 for $29.99 you can get it from gamersgate.com

The Demo can be found Here


Cepinas Review

Looking for a Action Space Shooter/RTS game? Well, Pame Interactive released CEPINAS on the XBLIG marketplace to fill that desire. Before anyone asks or I get any further let me say it now, this is not a twin stick shooter. It seems wrong that I feel the need to say that, but it does happen to be the case for a lot of games with similar styles.

The games concept is a simple one. Conquer the planets on the map and hold them. Do this to progress through the 8 different maps in campaign mode. Obviously it can’t be too simple, what would be the fun in that, right? First off there are 5 rounds for each map, so to move to the next map you must control the majority of the territory on that map at the end of round 5. A nice feature to this game is that the method you assure dominance and control is up to you. So lets talk about that next.

Cepinas gameplay consists of you controlling a ship that can shoot enemy ships, satellites, and asteroids as well as conquer neutral or enemy planets. The controls are a little different than most overhead shooters. RT is your gas, LT is for leaving a trail used to conquer planets, A is used for firing and the stick is used for turning right and left. To conquer a planet you have to get between the planet and the orbit ring and circle the entire planet, do this and it’s yours. This is all the enemy has to do to take a planet from you as well.

So what makes this game anything more than a shooter? Well for one each round is on a timer, there is no limit to how many time you can smash into a planet or an enemy ship. You have to think ahead. Taking a small planet will give you a small amount of money at the end of the round as well as right away, but will only add a small amount of territory control. Taking a large planet will give you more money immediately as well as more money at the end of the rounds in which you control it, but it takes longer to circle the planet and that adds to the risk of accidentally crashing into the planet, an enemy or satellite shooting you. You may have to forgo taking a planet in order to defend one you’ve already taken. So it isn’t just go out there guns blazing and expect to win.

Now, what do you get for the money between rounds? There are a number of options to choose from. Each planet can have up to 3 satellites circling it, and you have 5 levels of satellites to chose from the cheapest just floats around the ring and is an annoyance, but 2 through 5 shoot at enemies near them as well as can take more hits the higher the level they are. Another option is to shrink the size of the orbit ring around the planet, this can really make it harder for the enemy to take it from you as they are more likely to crash than before. The other options are upgrades to your ship. You can upgrade its speed, or the power of its attack. You can change its fire from single fire to double or a wide spread three shot, not to mention shields. Between all these options the computer will be doing similar upgrades to their planets as well. So it’s best to take away their planets before end of round as well as get control of the largest planets.

The game plays out very nicely and is a bit frustrating at times, each map seems to favor different options and strategies. With graphics reminiscent of the SNES days you won’t be playing this game for its appearance. The music for the game fits well, which is nice. Sadly I was unable to find an opponent to play online so I couldn’t experience the online multiplayer, which I am sure would have been a highlight of this game.

There were some flaws to the game, in the sense of glitches/bugs. When you first start the game there is a small glitch when it loads, but it doesn’t appear to do anything but pause the title screen for a second. The second glitch I found was far more annoying. While playing campaign mode on the very first map, at the end of round 5 I lost and the glitch caused the game to lock up and I had to exit to the dashboard to restart the game. The third glitch is when you later lose on a stage in campaign mode it asks to continue or return to menu. If you say return to menu it actually continues while if you say continue it brings you back to the map selection menu. Most of these glitches are more irritating than anything else, but you should be warned they are there and I can’t say for sure that there aren’t others.

In the end I give this game a 2 out of 5, between the bugs, lack of local mutliplayer. I can’t see this game holding many peoples attention for long. I think you would need to buy this game with an online friend so you have a challenger to play against, to get the most out of it. I actually did like this game and would have rated it higher if I could have played split screen, or wasn’t worried that I would run into another bug that required me to exit to the dashboard. With a little bit of love (some bug fixes) this game could easily be a 3 out of 5.

Little Kingdom Review

XBLIG developers Andreil’s Game creators of Pioneerz and Pioneer have created another great game. Little Kingdom is just that. A real-time strategy game of peaceful world conquest. Yep that is right, I said peaceful. The game is simple to play, very easy to learn and family friendly. Not to mention quite a bit of fun for it’s small packaging.

Little Kingdom is not really a war game, but is about conquering your enemies. In Little Kingdom it is all about your ability to influence other areas. You do this with forts, no they don’t fire at enemy soldiers or anything like that. Little Kingdom is a peaceful game with simple play to keep this game accessible to players of most ages. You have 4 building types to and two land types that you can construct. That is all that is needed. Once you learn how to do this best it’s pretty simple to build your strategies.

You can build a fort to spread your influence. Building a Lumberyard next to trees will gain you wood. Windmills gain you food. The last building is mines near a mine and that gets you bricks. You can build land on a water hex, or water on a land hex. That is all you ever build in this simple game. You upgrade your forts by turning the clay fort into a wood fort using the lumber you collect and then can upgrade it to a brick fort with the rocks you mine. Doing this to your fort increases its range and power of influence.

The game plays in real time so it isn’t turned based and everything happens on the fly. It supports 4 local players 6 teams can be on a map. You can choose the difficulty of the AI’s as well as whether the match is every man for themselves or team play where you set the teams anyway you want. offering quite a bit of flexibility. With a tutorial stage, a randomized stage and 8 prebuilt maps or scenarios the game offers quite a bit of replayability. Especially with the random map generator.  It would be cool if we could build our own maps for play, but you can’t have everything.

To boot this is not a long game matches last maybe 30 minutes usually a lot less. In my case this kept me from getting burned out and gives you a match where you don’t have to worry about saving the game. Since this isn’t a game with levels to go through it doesn’t have a save feature, which might bother some. To me it didn’t really feel like that was bad since the matches play out so quickly. The AI difficulties and the skills of the other players really determine how much of a challenge you will be facing.

All of this occurs on one screen, no split screen action. All the maps fit within the screen which I thought was a very nice feature. Other players cursors can get in your way at time, since when you click on a space it bring up a little menu on the map. An option to remove the popup menu and just associate certain buildings to specific buttons would be a welcome addition. The music isn’t really that great and the graphics are pretty simplistic as well. So if that is your thing, you will be disappointed, but if your looking for a good fast fun strategy game for cheap this game will fulfill that role.

Selling for 80msp this game is a steal. An easy 4 out of 5 if you ask me. I would have been more than willing to pay more for this gem.

Pioneerz Review

Pioneerz by Andreil Game is the successor to their other XBLIG Pioneer. This real time strategy role-playing game has a lot to offer any gamer. I found myself losing track of time while playing the game and for the most part this was a good thing. With Jump in jump out local gameplay supported it makes for an interesting and ever changing experience.

So what is Pioneerz about well your you local towns hero and you have to help your colony survive and thrive. What you will have to face to do this is; herbivores tearing up your resources, carnivores attacking you and your towns people, underground creatures attacking you and anything in their way, Legendary monsters that can wipe your town out and with all that going on you also have to worry about rival towns. As the hero your stats will level up from fights an so will your level itself. Your towns people can also gain levels in their attempts to protect the town.

Now if your wondering how do you help them survive well first you have to get them going by harvesting berries and lumber. While keeping away any threats from your weak townsfolk. Once your town gets going they won’t need your help as much and you can go about attacking other towns, closing passages to the underground to prevent those monsters from attacking your city. You can start taking over a vacant city by bring it supplies or go out there and hunt the legendary monsters.

The game play is very simple, four buttons and your directional is all you really need. Gather/Plant, Swing sword, Shoot bow, and Heal a person in front of you is as much as you ever have to remember control wise. You can pause the game and up to 4 players locally can join your match or choose to leave it if they have to go. This flexibility I thought was great especially since the game can be time consuming depending on the settings you choose.

You can play this game with 3 map sizes, Tiny, Normal and Huge as well as three difficulties Easy, Normal, and Hard. The game plays great on both tiny and normal maps, but I found on the huge map towards the end since all the cities were taken and pretty leveled up the game started to skip and lag. This didn’t happen until most of the cities were at their max size though and by that point I had already met at least one victory condition. Once you do beat a match, you can choose to keep playing it to beat it via the other methods or quit to start a new match.

Now this game is fun, and the art is a nice 16 bit feel to it. I wished it had a save feature because a game can take some time and that would be nice to have the ability to play one game with a friend save it and start another by yourself. Sadly that isn’t an option. You do get medals for certain accomplishments in the game that you can look at between matches. There was one other glitch I experienced in the game and that was I had accidentally changed teams for a second and so I changed my team back to what I had been playing initially, after doing this the team I had switched to had one city left and nobody left to kill to make the city become vacant. This glitch prevented me from defeating every team on the map. Although it is a nice option to give you the ability to change your team as well as it lets your friends choose whether to be on your team or some other team of their choice.

Now had this game not suffered from the two glitches, both of which happened after a long play session attempting to get the badges I would have gave it a 4, but I just can’t at least not until those issues are addressed.

So my official stance on the game is 3 out of 5. If you like RTSs and RPGs you should love this, if you like one of those types of games you may dig this. So go get the trial and see if it’s worth your 400 msp.

Colony Defense Review

Mana Bomb Game Studio’s Colony Defense is a tower defense RTS for both the Xbox and PC. Colony Defense is all about protecting colonies on different planets. Providing a nice system for the battlefields since each stage is an entire planet. For the purpose of this review I used the XBLIG version.

Much like any tower defense game the object it to prevent the enemy from getting through, in this case to your colony or colonies. The enemy has a landing base or multiple landing bases while you have 1 or more colonies to protect. The paths the enemy units travel are pretty varied amongst the 34 different stages. Often you will be defending multiple colonies from attack from multiple different paths at once.

To take on this threat you have Two major weapons at your disposal. 10 different towers that are also upgradable as well as an orbital cannon to fire on an enemy that makes it past your defenses. The cannon has a recharge rate so it’s not good to rely on it as a solution. If you fail and an enemy unit does make it to one of your colonies you will lose one person. If you lose all ten you lose the stage. If you manage to crush the enemy like a bug then you get a little something extra.

That leads us into the next topic. Besides the upgradable towers as you play, there is actually a overall stat upgrade section. Every stage you beat gives you 1 point and an extra point for not losing a single colonist. These points are used to upgrade stats like rate of fire, tower cost, tower damage while playing. So getting as many of the 2 points per stage as you can is worth your time. Don’t think that it will make the game incredibly easy because it will not. These upgrades are in minor percentages but that little extra might help to turn the tide on a stage. If you do beat a stage but lost a person during the stage upgrade your self with the one point and then go back to that planet and play it again. You can still get that extra point if you perfect the stage.

Now a little about the enemies you’ll be facing. Some are ground units, Some fly, some are fast while others are slow but take a ton of damage to take down. They will stream out of the different enemy bases and because they move at different speeds they can even start to over take the group that came before them. This can be really bad since your towers will be shooting at who knows which unit. So keeping towers spread out a bit to cover multiple paths can be good. One last thing is important to note the enemies will adapt to you. if you stick a ton of towers of one type out they will adapt and take less damage from that tower type. So keep your tower types fairly balanced and you should be good.

I have to say I’m not a big fan of the tower defense genre. I never really do very well in them and they rarely hold my interest for very long. Colony Defense does a really good job of holding my interest and brings a bit of a different feel to it as you rotate around the planet to stop the enemy from different points.

Got to say 4 out of 5.