Archive for the ‘strategy’ Category

Immortal Defense Review

November 19, 2008

Studio Eres’ Immortal Defense has one of the weirdest most preposterous stories I’ve come across in a videogame: You are a hero who has left their body – becoming some ethereal being in pathspace where you can blast space ships out of the sky with your emotions. This unique story embodies what indie games are about and solidifies itself with solid gameplay.

Gameplay: 9.5/10
Immortal Defense, in essence, is a tower defense game. You don’t build towers, but you do set emotion points which blast enemy orb-brains and other odd looking enemies. There are a ton of levels and a fantastic variety of “points” that keep things interesting and new throughout the game. I really like, that your cursor itself is a weapon and hovering it near any enemy will start it blasting – you can even charge up special attacks. This makes the levels feel a lot more arcadey and action oriented than simply building towers and watching them do all the work.

Despite the weird sci-fi premise, the story is very well written and touches on some pretty substantial themes. There’s too many metaphors in it to get into in a review, but trust me when I say that the text in this game is worth reading.

Graphics: 8.5/10
The graphics are definitely the weakest aspect of Immortal Defense. The biggest problem for me is the complete lack of variety when it comes to level appearance. Basically all the levels feature a dark spacey background with some white paths drawn on it. While this fits in with the story, I couldn’t help but wish for some abstract paintings, weird animated background or the like. The graphics themselves are all pretty simple. The special effects that permeate the entire gameplay space is what really saves the graphical experience of the game and makes it feel less cheap and more ethereal and supernatural.

Sound/Music: 9/10
The music is stellar and Walter Eres and Long Dao should be complemented for the soundtrack which really exemplifies the mood of the game and story. The sound effects are fine, but nothing really extraordinary. While the writing is superb, I do wish that Immortal Defense had voicework or a narrator for the story…maybe that’s greedy but it would’ve been sweet.

Lasting Appeal: 9/10
There are 10 difficulty levels and over 90 levels. More important is the fact that strategy is actually needed to plan and beat many of the later levels. Add to this a compelling… if completely out there story… and you have a game that certainly is worth it’s price tag.

Average: 90%
Tilt: +/- 0.00%

The bottom-line is that Immortal Defense is a very polished and unique tower-defense strategy game. The controls are intuitive and its easy to pick up and play. The supernatural / sci-fi story line may not be for everyone – but the game expertly weaves all of the elements: the story, gameplay, graphics and soundtrack into an artistic experience rather than just a game. The creativity and art that permeates through Immortal Defense is what makes it great- not the game itself.

Verdict: 90%

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Project Aftermath Review

November 7, 2008

Upon first look at Project Aftermath, It’s hard to believe that the game was made by such a small team (3) of British Game Developers. The production value of the game is incredibly high and the download is enormous (over 200MB). But the high production of Project Aftermath is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, I can’t imagine how Gamesfaction’s team of 3 produced the 3D graphics, and a game of this magnitude…it’s truly an achievement. On the other hand, all of the AAA production – the large download, 3D graphics, voice work, and real time strategy genre takes away from this game being “indie” and makes it feel like another big budget RTS. The shame of it all is that when you compare this game to big studio RTS games, the graphics and game aren’t quite so impressive. This dichotomy made it difficult to review Project Aftermath. Yes, it’s an Indie Game, but it doesn’t look or play like one.

Gameplay: 8/10
The game’s site describes Project Aftermath as an arcade Real Time Strategy game. Basically, what that means is you will not build any bases and collect a ton of resources in this game. The game is all about commanding “heroes.” The game’s heroes each have their own squad of troops, but the hero takes care of telling them what to do, so all you have to worry about is commanding your hero. The game has several different types of attacks and armor and a lot of the strategy in the game has to do with selecting the correct armor and weapon for the battle ahead. I really enjoyed the more action-oriented pace of this game, but the lack of base building mechanic does sort of make the game feel like it’s missing an essential RTS element. Then again, the hero concept and the lack of base building does make this game interesting and gives its gameplay a slight unique flare.

Graphics: 9/10
I have to admit that my PC struggled with this game. If not much was going on, it looked great, but the animation, camera, and effects were all choppy. My PC is fairly new (11 months old) but I don’t think my graphics card was up to snuff with the required/suggested video: GeForce 6 series, RADEON 9600, Intel GMA 950 or above, 1280×768 resolution or better. Again, this indie game resembles the major PC titles system requirements more than your typical casual or indie title. Based on the game’s videos, it seems like the animation & particle effects work. Just know that you need a decent computer…otherwise you’re left with one jerky action game.

Sound/Music: 10/10
The voice acting for this game is jaw-dropping. I simply could not believe the quality I was hearing. In fact after watching the first comic-strip story sequence and then hearing the voice work (and the sheer amount of voice work) I immediately went online to double check the size of the development team. The music, sound fx, and voice work is absolutely top-notch and is better than some fully priced console games out there.

Lasting Appeal: 7/10
There’s only 10 single player missions and no multiplayer. The story is interesting enough and presented in a really cool comic style, so you’ll want to play through it…but that’s all you get. The developer wants to make a stand-alone multiplayer game separate from this first entry. Multiplayer definitely would have boosted the longevity of the game, but while Project-Aftermath is short…it’s also only $20 but has the production value of $50+… so it’s a good value (even if multiplayer is another stand alone piece for $20 the game would be under other RTS games).

Average: 85.00%
Tilt: +/-0.00%

The fact that I’m comparing a 3 person team’s action RTS to the likes of Starcraft, Warcraft, Command & Conquer, etc. is quite an accomplishment for any Indie Studio. But when push came to shove, Project Aftermath just didn’t capture me. It’s a great game and quite a technical achievement, but it’s a little too much like a whittled down commercial studio RTS rather than an innovative and fresh gameplay experience. I don’t think the game does enough to capture non-RTS fans, but fans of the genre should rejoice because this indie title packs quite a punch.

Verdict: 85%

Multiwinia Review

November 5, 2008

By the time you read this Multiwinia will have been out for well over a month and, if the word coming out of developers Introversion is anything to go by, the game perhaps hasn’t done as well as they’d have liked so far. There’s a few reasons for this, the biggest being (and this is something that plagues any indie developer) that not many people have heard of it. This is a terrible shame because every game Introversion has produced has been by turns ingenious, engaging and entertaining. The conversion rate for Multiwinia (the number of people who play the demo and subsequently buy the game) is the highest that Introversion have ever had, so at the end of this review if my reservations (and there are a few) have put you off I’d still urge you to try the demo. You might find the game hooks you after all.

In a nutshell; Multiwinia takes the best bits of Introversion’s greatest hit Darwinia (namely the aesthetic, the sound design and the little green Darwinians) and straps them to the frame of a very basic multiplayer real-time strategy game.

Gameplay: 8/10

The core RTS mechanics of Multiwinia feel very stripped down. Your basic, and most plentiful, units are the Multiwinians. Descendants of the the Darwinians and now coming in a range of colours and delicious flavours, they’ve been kicking the hell out of each other since the end of the original game. They’re plentiful cannon fodder and can be group selected and commanded in large mobs or, if you nominate one of their number as an Officer, organised into rank and file to better concentrate their fire. They’re fragile beings, and an average game (which in my experience can be as quick as five minutes) will see you sending hundreds if not thousands to their pixelated demise.

There are several different game types and associated maps to keep things fresh, ranging from King of the Hill (control areas of the map to score points) to the delightful Rocket Riot, where your Multiwinians must protect, fuel and then launch a giant space rocket before the enemy team. Introversion have clearly gone to pains to provide as much variety as possible here, and that’s reflected in their choices of advanced units. Most games will see frequent, randomised crate drops that your Multiwinians can claim. These can contain bonus units such as Armours (troop transports), Squads (grenade launcher packing soldiers from Darwinia), and even the likes of a nuclear strike. There’s always the chance that a crate will be booby trapped, unleashing a Virus or deadly Ants instead of some thing you can point at the enemy.

A lot of the power-ups seem to deliberately unbalance the game, suggesting that Introversion were more keen to craft a fun experience rather than a rigidly tuned strategy game. It’s a decision that’s served Multiwinia well and offers plenty of opportunities for random mid-match hilarity. Matches, even between four players, are quick, manageable affairs and it’s not hard to imagine it becoming a popular lunch hour distraction. Losing shouldn’t worry players too much as there’s always a chance a well placed crate drop can turn the game on its head. Even if you’re knocked out early on, there’s a vengeance mode that gives you access to power ups you can deploy at regular intervals while spectating on the remainder of the game. Essentially, a chance to grief the bastard that knocked you out.

There are problems in how the game handles. Selecting groups of Multiwinians is done by clicking on the terrain and dragging the mouse outwards to create a kind of circular selection vortex. It feels completely counter intuitive to any regular RTS player who’s used to the traditional drag-box style. Even with the Officer feature you never have quite as much control over your Multiwinians as you would like. It’s a functional system that feels a tad awkward, and I suspect it’s exacerbated by the fact that we’ve never really seen a strategy game that handles like Multiwinia (except Darwinia of course). It’s just a bit different.

There’s a similar problem commanding the game’s special units. At its best, Multiwinia is a frenetic, frenzied experience. Battles can proceed at an extraordinarily fast pace and keeping on top of things can be quite a challenge. But when it comes to using Squads, for example, the game expects you to control the unit individually, meaning to get the most out of them you need to focus all your concentration on that one unit if you want to do anything effective with it. They won’t do anything useful if left to their own devices, and having to manage them like that can be distracting.

Graphics: 9/10

As I mentioned at the beginning, one of the best things about Darwinia was its aesthetic and Multiwinia looks almost identical to it, albeit with a few tweaks here and there. You might look at the screenshots and not be terribly impressed, but to accuse Multiwinia of lacking in terms of graphical power or fidelity is to miss the point. The look of the game is unique and the graphical design is damn near perfect in what it’s trying to visually represent, and because of that I don’t think it’s ever going to age. It’s got style and a great retro feel, and when the whole thing is in motion it can be astonishingly pretty.

Sound/Music: 9/10

There’s a very understated, unobtrusive score backing Multiwinia that you can’t really say too much about because… well, because you won’t really notice it. Unlike, say, Defcon (to pick a game not entirely at random), where the haunting music complemented the already thick layer of dread and desperation, there’s just too much flying around the Multiwinian battlefields for any music to make much of a noticeable impact.

The rest of the sound design is, like the visual style, pretty much spot on and there’s not much more to be said about it. What will probably strike you most are the horrible, high pitched death screams of the Multiwinians. They’re positively haunting.

Lasting Appeal: 8/10

This is a strange one to call. On the one hand, I think Multiwinia is perfect bite-sized gaming. Short, intense and very easy to dip in to. It’s about as far away from the usual RTS online slugging match as you could hope to get. But that might be a problem too. As a huge RTS fan (weened on C&C and it’s clones before becoming addicted to Company of Heroes back in the day) I found Multiwinia to be almost too much of a departure in some respects. It looks and feels so alien compared to what you expect an RTS to be that I can easily see how it would be off-putting to fans of the genre.

But that’s no reason to ignore it. Multiwinia is a great little game – very focused, very compact and very entertaining. It’s easy to grasp and has sufficient variety, and I suspect how it differentiates itself from the traditional RTS may end up being its greatest strength in the long run. It’s different enough to appeal well beyond the boundaries of the genre.

It’s currently ten dollars on Steam. If RTS is your thing, or even if you just enjoy new, weird, fun games to play with, then this one is a no-brainer.

Average: 85%
Tilt: –

Verdict: Full of win, 85%

Townopolis Review

October 26, 2008

Townopolis by Lonely Troops is a simple and fun real estate strategy game (with some time management thrown in). The basic premise is that you are a home developer and must do your best in each scenario to build a residential neighborhood and satisfy the folks who live there. The game has simple point and click controls and a nice isometric viewpoint.

Gameplay: 7.5/10
Pros: There are definitely some great strategic choices under the guise of this approachable casual building game. I really like how residents don’t like being near train tracks, industrial buildings, commercial strip centers etc. The gameplay is very approachable and easy to pick up and play. There’s an extensive tutorial that teaches you the ropes.
Cons: Gameplay is just point click over and over. It’s annoying to have to wait until you have enough money or material to do something else. There should be a mechanic to undo an errant click. Another design flaw is the fact that you cannot look up a building’s requirements without having an empty plot to highlight.

Graphics: 7.5/10
Pros: I love the Title Screen and all the GUI elements both in-game and on the title screen make the game very easy to navigate. It’s all nice, clean and standard issue.
Cons: Some of the people in the game just look creepy (look at the weirdo below) – I think a cartoon look may have worked better. There’s no real animation, special effects or wow factor. The most elaborate animation/effects you’ll get are some fireworks at level completion.


Sound/Music: 6/10
Pros: Sound fx are kept to a minimal but make sense and fit the mood and pacing of the game.
Cons: Music is incredibly repetitive. When each scenario is 10+ minutes, there needs to be more variety in the elevator music. Music/Audio as a whole is a little too thin … there could be more sound fx and music variety.

Lasting Appeal: 9/10
Pros: Despite the repetitive music, Townopolis is addictive. There are a ton of different buildings, licenses, upgrades, etc. You’ll find yourself replaying scenarios to get silver/gold stars or earn trophies by shooting for bonus objectives. Despite the simple click and casual friendly gameplay, Townopolis is actually challenging unlike so many other casual portal games. The difficulty really forces you to understand the complexities of designing your neighborhood. I forgot to mention the ability to design custom scenarios as well.
Cons: The repetitive music, inability to look up building requirements (and plan ahead) and other minor flaws detract from Townopolis and make longer play sessions tough without muting the audio.

Average: 75.00%
Tilt: + 1.00%

Don’t just look at the score of this review and judge Townopolis. It’s a very addictive, methodical, and approachable strategy game. Yeah, the construction dude who gives you tips looks like a pedophile, but these types of games aren’t about fancy graphics or complex gameplay. If you can look past the minor flaws of the game, you’ll find a very deep real estate strategy game. Townopolis appears to be a typical casual game with shallow gameplay, but almost every level in the game throws something new at you.

Verdict: 76%

Kudos 2 Review

October 20, 2008

Kudos 2 is the sequel to Positech Games life simulator game, Kudos (read the Kudos 1 review). The game puts you in control of making your character’s everyday decisions from their 20th birthday to their 30th. If you are familiar with Kudos, then you definitely know what to expect in the sequel. You start out as a waiter and make day to day decisions with the click of your mouse: pick your mode of transportation to work, decide to take night classes or go out drinking during the week, etc. Not much has changed since the first one except a significantly enhanced style and presentation.

Gameplay: 8/10
Pros: The same strategy gameplay from Kudos returns to Kudos 2. The game is very simple to play (but definitely hard to master) and surprisingly addictive. The new ability to customize your avatar really adds a lot to the experience.
Cons: Gameplay consists of clicking and navigating menus. The tutorial/instruction of the game is a little scant. Your friends are way too needy! and your never seem to have enough cash (OK maybe this simulator is hitting close to home).

Graphics: 10/10
Pros: I actually didn’t notice how much better the graphics were till I looked at screens between the two games. Kudos 1 had freaky blank-faced character models and a washed out and colorless presentation (I guess it took place in Seattle or London) whereas Kudos 2 has slick customizable characters, and vibrant menus and a colorful presentation.
Cons: An utter lack of animation permeates the sequel, but then again, animation isn’t really needed for this type of game.


Sound/Music: 9/10
Pros: Congratulations to Jesse Hopkins who does a great job with the music for this game. The music is very calming, laid back and subtle. The music does a fantastic job capturing the mood of the day and the atmosphere of the game. Sound is kept to simple clicks and what I would call “alert sounds” (i.e. dog barking, rain falling, character coughing) that help notify the player of their situation.
Cons: Nothing really to complain about…

Lasting Appeal: 9/10
Pros: The bright and upbeat music and improved graphics of this sequel make a huge difference in the amount of time that you can spend playing the game. It takes a decent amount of time to live your life from 20-30 in the game, but the character customization and sheer amount of choices, skills and statistics add a lot of replay value.
Cons: I’m really not sure if this is a game or a simulator/strategy game. In many ways it’s more similar to a board game with stat tracking character sheets than a video game. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but also makes this game not suitable to everyone.

Average: 90.00%
Tilt: +/- 0.00%

Kudos 2 is a life simulator and that’s exactly what you get (and a vastly improved one at that) but if that explanation of the game alone makes you cringe than this game is absolutely not for you. It’s a very relaxing and enjoyable diversion where you can live a virtual life. The sheer amount of choice in this game is ridiculous. I do have a suggestion for Kudos 3. I think it would be fantastic if the game placed you in your senior year of high school rather than your 20s as a poor waiter. As an 18 year old, you would have high school friends, finish out your senior year of high school, apply and select a college (or start in the workforce), and continue to try and maintain long time friends as you move away from school into your 20s & 30s. This would break up the game and vary the virtual life experience a little more. All in all, I look forward to Kudos 3 and thoroughly enjoyed Kudos 2. The gameplay is only subtly changed, but the overall package is vastly improved.

Verdict: 90%

Band of Bugs Review

October 19, 2008

So Far Band of Bugs has been slammed by critics and has an average review score of 69/100. DO NOT be swayed by this without trying the game. The basic problem in a lot of these reviews is that they view Band of Bugs as too easy for tactic/strategy game fans and too hard for casual players. My problem with so many of the reviews is that they seem to be reviewing and critiquing the concept of Band of Bugs (create a simplistic and more casual tactics experience) than the actual game itself. Why such glowing reviews when Ninjabee simplified RTS genre in Outpost Kaloki? Aren’t RTS fans as hardcore and particular as Tactics/Strategy fans? Apparently not.

In the end, a review is just a person’s opinion. Typically, I think that all the critics reviews average out correctly, but that doesn’t seem to be the case with Band of Bugs. At least, that’s not the direction the reviews are heading. I can only hope that I fairly review the game and voice some opinion or perspective that is worthwhile.

Graphics: 9/10
Pros: Phenomenal 2D art..Gigantic HD handdrawn depictions of all the bugs look great! 3D engine looks good for a Live release and all the different types of units and teams are easily discerned. The animation of all the critters is stellar.
Cons: The different color line shading does detract from the graphics somewhat…taking this option off is usually not worth doing in multiplayer, but it does improve the 3D graphics.

Gameplay: 8/10
Pros: Fully Featured game with an enjoyable campaign, a multitute of online modes, and a level editor. This is where Band of Bugs has really been critiqued and while I found the campaign somewhat easy, I was very entertained and it was all over too quickly. I was actually left with questions about Maal’s origin and hope that DLC will fill in these holes. The campaign dialogue is absolutely brilliant and quite witty and funny. While strategy/tactics fans may find the game easy or simplistic, the point of the game was to make this genre of games more approachable and casual. Outpost Kaloki certainly simplified RTS games, and I loved that it did (not being the biggest RTS fan) even though I struggle to beat certain levels. While I agree that Band of Bugs is no Tactics Ogre, Fire Emblem, etc. is it fair to compare it to these full retail games? I don’t think so…it would be like comparing Outpost Kaloki to Command & Conquer 3.
Cons: I did miss the rock-paper-scissors weapon element that is present in the fire emblems, but this game is supposed to be simplistic. I do agree with some of the other reviews about the RPG elements and stat-tracking. Adding in some character customization would have been great…from naming them, to picking 2-3 skills/abilities/spells. I think it could have been added while still staying simplistic and casual.

Sound/Music: 9/10
Pros: The bug voices/gibberish is absolutely great and works perfectly with the game’s sense of humor and tone. The sound FX as a whole are well thought out and distinctive to certain units, actions, etc. The Music is good and fits with the theme…
Cons: ..but some of the music misses and feels a little repetetive…ok only 1 particular song, but still a con.

Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Pros: I find it hard for anyone to argue over the feature set in this game. It offers a variety of multiplayer modes: Spider Hunter, Elimination, Capture, etc. both online and locally. There is also the great addition of a Level Editor plus a full 20 mission campaign story mode with additional stand alone missions. It’s a game chock-full-to the brim with features for $10.
Cons: My complaint is squarely on the online multiplayer… I have found it very hard to find ranked games and virtually all the games I have played have been Spider Hunter. I really love elimination and find a human opponent very fun to compete with online…so Band of Bug players stop playing Spider Hunter.

Average: 90.00%
Tilt: +2.00%

Don’t get me wrong, Band of Bugs has it’s issue and may not be a homerun for Strategy Fans, but it delivers on a ton of features. While RPG elements and custom Bug armies would have been great, this game’s purpose was to offer a simplified and more casual Tactics gameplay experience. Ninjabee certainly delivered on this goal and exceeded their previous titles in the story mode and dialogue category if you ask me. My biggest issue with the game is that I wanted more of the campaign, more Maal, and that I find it incredibly hard and time consuming to find online ranked elimination/capture matches. Everyone plays Spider Hunter! I don’t think I’ve mentioned that the turn system works FANTASTIC for online matches and keeps them action packed. Great design decision! All in all Band of Bugs offers a lot of game for $10. Perhaps the reason for all the low reviews is that people are comparing it to $50-60 titles, since the quality of the game and features resemble those full priced titles over the typical offerings of Xbox Live. Give Band of Bugs a chance, you probably will find yourself smiling and chuckling along with Maal and his gang.

Verdict: 92%

Outpost Kaloki (X) Review

October 18, 2008

Let me start out by saying that I love this game. More power to Ninjabee(http://www.ninjabee.com/)! They have 2 of my favorite Xbox Live Arcade games and they’ve only made 2 games for the 360 so far (as far as I know). I don’t really know how to describe Outpost Kaloki X. It is part Real Time Strategy Game, part Action Game, and part Puzzler. It all winds together into a great package. Outpost Kaloki was originally available for PC and was heralded with critical acclaim. Only reason I didn’t get it for PC was because I figured Xbox version for $10 was better than PC version for $20. Yes, as surprising as it may be, I dont’ make the big bucks blogging and making Video Games- the 9-5 job is the one that provides me with food. Bottom line is that Outpost Kaloki is a very addicting and frantic Action/RTS game and an absolute must buy for Xbox 360 owners.

Gameplay: 9/10
Pros: Gameplay is way quicker and action packed than most RTS. You really have to build things in the right order, and be ready to increase power, alter settings, and build the next building just as you’ve earned the money to pay for it in order to beat the level and not run out of time. I can’t imagine successfully managing my space station in ther later levels at the faster gameplay speeds. (After Level 6 I pretty much stuck with Speed 1). This all adds up to there constantly being something to do or attend to as you reach for your goal. The Controls are spot on and make it easy to navigate to all your expansions. The game is simple enough to pick up and play, but is a lot more complicated than you think.
Cons: This game can be pretty hard. I have been playing the game a lot and am not that far in the campaign, but have had to consistently replay levels in order to complete them (but I immediately clicked retry and got right back into it!). The instructions on how to play could have been more in depth to help you understand the necessary intricacies of gameplay. A tad too hard.
Graphics: 9/10
Pros: The graphics are fully 3d and the engine runs incredibly fast and smooth. What’s even better is the variety of stations that each new level brings, from a crazy pink domed station to a giant oak tree! What’s more important is that each facility/expansion is easily identifiable so you can quickly sell and upgrade or change attributes. I also love the cartoony feel of the menus and cast of characters and aliens.
Cons: Graphics definitely lack the wow factor since this game just focuses on resource management. No real battles or crazy effects to speak of, but you do have to love the hustle and bustle of a successful space station and all the dollar bill and money indicators.
Sound/Music: 8/10
Pros: The simple clicks and beeps of the menus work well. The cha-ching of money is always nice. The music is very catchy…and I have found myself grooving to it when my station is doing well and I’m in the zone. The music really stands out…but
Cons: The music really stands out…but it can be repetitive.
Lasting Appeal: 10/10
Pros: The main campaign scenarios feature over 20 levels, add to that several downloadable scenarios, different story lines, and modes and you have a hefty game with plenty of levels and fun to be had. I just glanced at the Ninjabee website and there is significant DLC.
Cons: If you don’t like the game you won’t want to take advantage of these ways to extend it. It would’ve been cool to see some sort of multiplayer or online aspect.

Average: 90.00%
Tilt: +4.00%
I have to give a little extra to this title because last night everything just clicked and became uber fun. I finally advanced to a level with several options, tons of ships visiting my station, new upgrades, and not nearly enough time to get everything done. I failed the level twice, but then it all came together and money started pouring in as I frantically switched, repaired, and adjusted my expansions. With my continuing success came a joy and right before I finished the final objective, knowing my inevitable victory, I took a break from my feeble dancing attempts and yelled a resounding “Yes!” How many games can spur such a response? Not many…how many games can do it for $10? Even Less. Outpost Kaloki is a gem that I have to wholeheartedly recommend.
Verdict: 94%

Tribal Trouble Review

October 13, 2008

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Tribal Trouble is a Real Time Strategy game that pits Island Natives against the invading Vikings. There are the aforementioned 2 factions who each have 5 units and 3 buildings (which are equivalent). The scarce variety of units and buildings is really the only indication that this game is an Indie title since the graphics, gameplay, presentation, etc. are all well above and beyond what is typically seen in the Indie industry and is very comparable to big budget PC titles with immense development teams. Furthermore, the simplicity and focus on the units/buildings makes the game far more enjoyable to play and less daunting to approach. My least favorite thing about RTS games was the immense diversity and huge amount of time that had to be invested learning each unit and its strengths and weaknesses. I may be in the minority on this, but I really feel that with the immense RTS lineups, you really can only spend the time getting to know one game’s units, buildings, etc. Regardless, this game is really impressive in almost every aspect.

Gameplay: 9.5/10
Pros: All the typical RTS shortcut keys and functions are there (only streamlined) and the controls are instantly accessible. The best thing about Tribal Trouble though is the simple units mean that players don’t sit around and build massive bases and units and then just mass strike. There’s a lot more back and forth and time management is a bigger issue than in other Real Time Strategy games.
Cons: The simplicity of the units is nice, but I would have liked to see a couple more buildings and maybe an exclusive unit or a little more difference between the Native and Vikings.


Graphics: 10/10
Pros: I really can’t express how impressed I was with the graphics of this game. The game features a fully 3D world and camera which can rotate, pan, zoom, etc. You can zoom in right on the littlest Peon and see the very fluid animations up close. There’s a distinct look between the two factions and the menus and presentation are all top-notch
Cons: I guess the character models look a bit blocky up close and make you aware of the lack of polygons, but you can’t fault the game for that when there are hundreds of units waddling and running about.

Sound/Music: 8.5/10
Pros: The sound is perfectly adequate and solid and the musical scores are quite good.
Cons: I could’ve used more music (there are only about 4 musical scores).

Lasting Appeal: 9.5/10
Pros: Randomly generated island levels, online multiplayer, and 2 very fun campaign modes…there are plenty of modes and features to keep you playing.
Cons: The lack of units/buildings can wear thin and although it contributes to Tribal Trouble’s initial appeal, it also detracts from its depth.

Average: 93.75%
Tilt: + 0.25%

Tribal Trouble is great fun. I guess I haven’t mentioned the humor yet, which this game has in spades. The premise itself is humorous: Drunk Vikings get lost on an island and start fighting the natives. Tribal Trouble is $30 which is higher than the typical Indie title, but it is also of a much higher caliber. If you download the demo, you will immediately be impressed with Tribal Trouble’s graphics, presentation, and gameplay. Anyone who likes RTS games should buy it and anyone who has avoided them because of their vast learning curve should step up to the plate and play this more casual take on a hardcore genre that dominates the PC market. A must buy for everyone who enjoys PC games.

Verdict: 94%

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Kudos Review

October 9, 2008

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Strategy/sim games are not usually my thing, but I just enjoyed Kudos. I’m not a stat-tracking convert, but KUDOS does a real good job making it fun and I can see how people would become completely and utterly addicted. Kudos has its flaws, but ultimately delivers what it promises: a life simulation.

Gameplay: 8/10
Pros: Very easy to use interface and crisp presentation makes taking night classes, going jogging, or out with friends a breeze. Very diverse ways to precede in the game- do you reject a friend’s invitation to apply for a better job, or enjoy a game of bowling with your last 11 pounds?
Cons: I’m not really sure if KUDOS is a “game” since you really are just weighing decisions and deciding what to do and clicking around. It’s very much a simulation and a stat-tracker’s dream…not so much a game you boot up to relax and blast away some locust or space invaders or the like.

Graphics: 6/10
Pros: Very slick and clean presentation…the menus and styles in the game all blend together well. I am especially fond of the flies that accumulate and move on your screen (very post-modern) after your KUDOS persona has forgotten to clean his place for a few weeks.
Cons: There is a complete and utter lack of animation and the character models freak me out and look pretty creepy. Graphics are not a necessity for a game like this, but animation between the character’s poses or really anything could’ve brought these people more to life.

Sound/Music: 8.5/10
Pros: Sounds pretty much consist of clicks/alerts/dog barks/weather and other background sounds which are all fine. I was particularly fond of the music which was subtle, enjoyable, without being intrusive – a very good blend of for lack of a better word, “elevator” music.
Cons: The sound/Music is really one of the stronger aspects of the title, but the music/sound is not dynamic enough to induce a range of moods in the player. This is partly due to the gameplay and detached “playing god” life simulation gameplay.

Lasting Appeal: 9.5/10
Pros: Different character models, sexes, and ways to approach this game results in near limitless replay value. The game does a good job of throwing you a bone: whether it be a new job or new friend, right when you are getting frustrated or bored. This amounts to the game sucking you in for way more hours that you initially planned on playing it for.
Cons: The game is a very solitary experience and there is the threat of having no friends in real life while having a vast social network in KUDOS. Strategists, please tear yourself away from this life game enough to live your own life.

Average: 78.75%
Tilt: + 0.25%

This game is a very good strategy/simulation game. It doesn’t offer the interactivity, animation, etc. of say “The Sims,” but does offer more in the strategy and planning aspects. It is a niche game with very specific appeal. Most people have no interest in managing everyday life tasks and stat tracking, but those who do like those kind of games will love this title. Look at me, I don’t really like strategy games myself, but found myself immersed in KUDOS on several occasions. Cliffski and Positech games are very well-known in the Indie community and Kudos is a good example of why this is the case.

Verdict: 79%

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