Archive for October, 2013
Europa Universalis IV continues the traditions of Paradox Interactive’s grand historical strategy series and – while offering somewhat simplified gameplay – still maintains its trademark complexity and realism. You may become the ruler of almost any country between the years 1444 and 1820, trying to keep your independence through four hundred years of war, diplomacy and development. You can choose from several milestones between these two dates and “interesting” countries which were historically important at specific times are always indicated. A small empire may be your choice as well, which is way different from the “big players” of history.
While some changes have been made to the interface, this game might still look intimidating for beginners. A bunch of tutorials and tooltips help you find your way around but reading the manual or some hints online is heavily advised. Mastering the controls of EU IV is totally worth it though, as making your civilization thrive and seeing its gears running smooth can be really cool.
Your country now generates administrative, military and diplomatic points which can be used in many ways (consolidating your empire, starting a war, encouraging technological development, etc.). While your choice of a country gives you a recommended way of leading your empire, the introduction of a new feature called Ideas lets you customize and shape it even further.
Gameplay-wise the fourth instalment still sports the RTS-turn based hybrid where the flow of events can be stopped at any moment so it is possible to ponder your next step and finding the best decision. Random events occur from time to time offering you having you define the course of action in the current scenario. While there isn’t any ultimate winning condition different mission goals can be set for your civilization.
Although they are somewhat functional, the graphics of EU IV are pleasing to the eyes. Some small details breathe life into the boardgame-like map of the world. Music also creates a majestic feeling, though becoming repetitive during extended hours of playing.
Europa Universalis IV is a real treat for hardcore strategy game fans with its depth and countless possibilities. However, these may be discouraging for people who are looking for a game that is more intuitive to learn.
Despite beginning with you trotting through the forest at a relaxing pace, dodging the occasional barrel or sometimes jumping the odd fence, Last Knight by Toco Games will quickly have your hands flying across your keyboard in a desperate struggle to keep your knight atop his horse as he hurtles through the five chapter of the story mode. Your character, a lowly knight arriving late to assist in the rescue of the kingdoms princess from the dragon that took her, must advance lance in hand through what is certainly not the most creative plot available in a game, but is still an enjoyable one none the less.
The story mode of Last Knight is a short affair, with five chapters each set in a new environment seeing you charge around everywhere from sun soaked forests to mist veiled graveyards, all the while fighting to stay on your horse long enough to reach the end of the end of the stage.
Hell bent on stopping you are enemy knights, low walls, small streams and a lot of barrels. I won’t say much as to the final stages of the game save for that there is a dragon, and it is infuriating, and not in a good way. After a good 5-10 minutes of chasing down this dragon I finally caught it and so the story was done. Luckily this is not the end of Last Knight, completing the story merely unlocks several new modes full of power ups, new characters, an endless mode and various challenges to complete.
However a somewhat repetitive music can become irritating after extended periods of play and while the game’s visuals are stunning its lifespan is short even with the inclusion of the endless level.
Despite having faults Last Knight is still a fun game for experienced runner players and casual players looking for some entertainment.
Worms Clan Wars is yet another fantastic strategy game developed by Team17. Just like other worms games, you control a group of cartoon earthworm looking creatures across a destructible landscape to battle with a wide range of weapons. In Clan Wars, you can go through the story mode which starts off with you controlling one strong worm against a bunch of computer-controlled worms in order to complete the tutorial and get a taste of what to expect.
If the off-the-wall humor does not strike your fancy, then this is not something to consider buying. After the initial tutorial, you are introduced to the different classes of worms available, which are a heavy worm with high health, a scout worm that is quick moving and does not set off mines, a soldier worm that can explode its thrown grenades before the timer does, and a scientist worm that replenishes health each turn.
There are modes for playing skirmishes over local area network (LAN) or online, and a kind of ranked online matches called clan wars. In this mode you are able to create your own clan and customize its emblem and other details. If you do not want to start your own clan there is a way to join others, but I did not attempt to find out how.
I really like how, if needed, the entire game can be operated with only the keyboard even for exiting the program. Personally, I am a poor Worms player, so online for me was a huge struggle. Most of the time I spent playing the game was single-player story mode, mainly for the humor in the pre-mission briefing.
The voice acting was spectacular and for me the game was just the right kind of funny with a touch of ridiculous without being off-putting. The only thing I found frustrating is just a few missions into the campaign the computer starts actually fighting back and has inhuman accuracy making a difficult mission near impossible to survive, especially if even a tiny mistake is made.
Initially, I was worried about Splinter Cell: Conviction. I heard a lot about how the series had deviated from its stealth origins. For the most part, this is true. While this game is much more action oriented than the previous titles, it’s still one of the best stealth games on the market.
Once again, you play as the super-spy, Sam Fisher. For a long time, Fisher’s daughter, Sarah was thought to be dead, but there is a rumor floating around that suggests otherwise. Sam has left his former position at Third Echelon and is now trying to find out the truth about his daughter.
If you’re a long-time fan of the Splinter Cell series, then Conviction might disappoint you. There are parts of the campaign that force you into action-filled areas. Still, when the game allows stealth, it’s some of the best you will ever play. The most fulfilling playstyle, in my opinion is when you manage to pass all of your enemies without them ever detecting you.
One of the new mechanics of Conviction is Mark-and-Execute. You can use this mechanic to mark up to three of your enemies and with the press of a button, you will automatically execute them. At first, it felt like cheating, but by the end of the story mode, I was using Mark-and-Execute consistently.
In previous games, you knew how hidden you were by using the light meter on your HUD. For Conviction, this mechanic has been replaced. When you step into the shadows, the screen turns black-and-white signifying that you’re invisible.
The campaign is pretty short, about five hours if you don’t make too many mistakes. SC: Conviction makes up for its small story mode with some extra modes. The gem of the multiplayer is the co-op campaign. It’s about half the size of the singleplayer and twice as fun. If you have a good partner, this can be one of the best cooperative experiences on any game.
In the end, Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Conviction is a great game, but it isn’t necessarily a great Splinter Cell game. There’s a little too much action for this title to receive the “Something Special” badge, but I’m giving it a solid 8.
Dominions 3: The Awakening is best comparable to an exam whereby you have to partake in a lot of extracurricular revision (the game manual is 300 pages long) and then take the test, which is the actual gameplay, and if you’ve done all your homework you will pass. If – like me – you don’t have the time and instead of revising slack off and just get on with it then Dominions 3 is an ordeal comprised of confusing statistics, poorly animated battle sequences with a generic and limited fantasy soundtrack.
The game itself is comprised of randomly generated maps that either come with a set amount of resources like gemstones and money or you can pick and choose what you have at your disposal. The main source of your power is in the shape of a ‘Pretender God’ who you create at the beginning of the game with the ability to forge weapons and use magic etc. You also command troops who have a range of actions including pillaging neighbouring territories and going out to find human blood sacrifices, which are apparently classed as a resource!
With your minimal army you set about to increase it, conquering the nearby lands and attacking enemy strongholds ala Command and Conquer however the action is mostly presented via text at the end of a turn. If your troops get caught up in a battle you do however have the option of watching the battle unfold.
I would suggest not selecting the option of watching the battle sequence. What takes place is a strange jittery animation of troops moving every other second and attacking a bit before either fleeing or getting annihilated by the opposing collection of pixels. I would have struggled to figure out which team I was cheering on were it not for my giant Dragon Pretender God that was definitely pretending to take part in the battle.
I would forgive the graphics were it not for the fact that the game came out in 2006 and looks like it should have been released around the same time as Diablo. Although they certainly do come second to the game play that, admittedly although not my cup of tea, is actually incredibly in-depth and has a lot to offer a dedicated player who is ready to take on the challenge. The just need to make sure they don’t have any immediate commitments first.