Thursday, May 31, 2012

May 2012 News #2

Xcom: Enemy Unknown for consoles and PC is launching on Oct 9, 2012. Now all we're missing is the announcement of PvP and always connected DRM (you know it's coming). Here's a preview from bit-tech. And from Eurogamer.

I hope the modding feature is still in the PC version of Xcom: Enemy Unknown, because that usually leads to creative and interesting player created content. Except those "realism" mods (gotta love the fallacious appeal to realism in a video game) where both player and enemy units die in one hit, not because it's balanced or fun to most people, but because "realism".

More details on the Xcom: Enemy Unknown "ant farm". This seems like a water cooler idea that should have been left out of the game had saner heads prevailed. It looks hideous and confusing. An overhead perspective or a simple menu is far more effective and easier to visually process.

New E3 2012 trailer for Skulls of the Shogun.

New Project X Zone screenshots. So why is it that every humanoid unit model looks like a stiff and awkward wooden doll? Could they possibly make it look any more bland and boring? I'm seeing a lot of grunts here so you'd better love that fighting mini game as you'll probably be doing it just as much as in Namco X Capcom. As a side note, the speculation that Monolith Software was the developer of Project X Zone turned out to be correct.

There's a new dojinsoft game for PC out called Fantasy Maiden Wars. Normally I don't cover smallish PC games like this, but this is one of the bigger name releases, especially since it got picked up by sites like Kotaku Japan.

Tales of the World Tactics was announced for Android phones (in Japan). I'm pretty sure this is a port of the Tales Tactics game that is already out for Japanese cell phones. In any case, unless you live in Japan there's almost no chance you'll get to play this, as it's based on subscription fees and microtransactions.

New Gungnir for PSP screenshots. I'm still looking forward to this game. It's one of the first English console tactics games in a while to have a difficulty mode with a high challenge level.

New Rainbow Moon screenshots.

Pure Chess is out for PS3 and Vita. I rarely cover chess video games because there's so many of them, but I suppose it wouldn't hurt this once. And who here doesn't love chess? With the chess theme in mind, IBM celebrates the 15th anniversary of Deep Blue beating Garry Kasparov.

Something I missed last month. A port of Panzer Corps is headed for iOS. Panzer Corps is a WW2 tactics game for PC. There are also new demos of Panzer Corps and Battle Academy available.

2nd Super Robot Wars Original Generation for PS3 now has a release date of Winter 2012 in (where else?) Japan. Theoretically this SRW doesn't have the licensing issues that most SRW games have, so there is a slightly higher chance of a localization, depending if Namco-Bandai wants to take the gamble. We've also got a bunch of new screenshots up at Famitsu, including some battle map and interface shots. It looks like the partner system and equippable weapons are returning features.

Speaking of Super Robot Wars, I finally finished my 2nd SRW Z Saisei-hen playthrough/challenge run. It took so long because I played through most of the different route splits. You can check out the playthrough video playlist here. The full challenge conditions are included in the playlist description if you're interested in reading them.

Like most SRWs I've played, the late and end game plays much differently from the early and mid game. The early and mid game is mostly concerned with tanking, counterattacking, and using support attack/defend, while the late game shifts to a focus on MAP attacks, support seishins like Enable, Hope, and Supply, and high damage attacks to take down powerful bosses.

I like the change of pace as you've already played the last 45 or so scenarios doing the same tank/counterattack/support strategy, so there's little to be gained by making the player go through more of the same. Adding some additional depth and variety can provide additional challenge to the player beyond what they've already proven they're capable of accomplishing. Anyway, it's your chance to see me play a tactics game and possibly point out my mistakes or comment on my strategies or how I play, etc.

That's all for this month.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

May 2012 News and Commentary

First trailer of Mechwarrior Tactics. Like many new western developed tactics games, Mechwarrior Tactics uses a WEGO or simultaneous turn system where both the player and enemy execute their actions on the same phase.

Nintendo of America registered the domain name While this might raise some localization hopes, and I'm fairly confident it will be localized, keep in mind they typically register domain names of all of their games to prevent squatting. They've had for years. From what I'm reading, there is some DLC in FE: Awakening that might break the game's balance. No big surprise there.

First trailer of Project X Zone. New screenshots. You can see what the battle system will be like. No appearance of the overhead grid, which is typical for trailers. Why hide the strategic side of the game, huh? It shows a lack of confidence. A lot of posters seem to think the art style is second rate. Hopefully the game play isn't as well.

Previews of Pokemon Conquest. Preview #2. The previewers seemed underwhelmed by the game's simplicity and lack of difficulty.

New trailer of Rainbow Moon, the PSN tactics game. It looks good, but I don't think the 3 player deployment limit preserves much of the tactics feel we're used to in the genre. It looks more like a dungeon crawler with a few extra units to control.

Love Kickstarter? Hate Kickstarter? The official developers of Battle Chess have started a 30 day kickstarter to raise $100,000 for a robust multiplayer mode. Unfortunately a few days into the fundraiser and things aren't looking so hot - only $7300 raised. At least nobody will be charged if it doesn't meet the $100,000 goal.

Ghostlight announced that they're publishing Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2 in Europe. Good news for the EU as they tend to miss out on tactics games.

That's all the news I've got for now.. on to what I've been up to.

I've been playing through 2nd Super Robot Wars Z Saisei-hen (or Z2-2) and recording my progress. Most of these are first attempts with quicksave failures cut out. It's actually a challenge run with the terms listed in the Youtube playlist description (link above). So if you ever wanted to check out my actual playing chops and potentially laugh at how much of a noob I am at tactics games, by all means take a look! It's a decent SRW, but I think there are far too many grunt enemies and the enemy turns take far too long. But I'm not a very patient gamer when it comes to waiting for my turn.

I'm excited to talk more about Skulls of the Shogun but I'm going to have to wait until E3 to reveal more about it. It's a fantastic fast paced arcade style tactics game that I think might garner itself a small but loyal competitive community.

My brother's tactics game, Strat Tech, was released a few weeks ago. We ended up making a lot of changes since that last demo build I linked to. I convinced him that each turn took too many commands and actions and it was bogging the player down. So we reduced the unit count and did some adjustments to movement and action point values. I think the game turned out pretty well and you should give the demo a try if you want an arcade style tactics game with lots of balanced classes and abilities that isn't bogged down in progression and stat growth systems and grinding.

While you're at it you can check out his other arcade style games that are all balanced and skill based with interesting rule sets and mechanics, and sometimes quite a bit of fun if you like that style of game. Probably the most accessible games are XOP and Twin Reaper, as they're mostly standard shoot em up games. But if you want to tie your brain in knots and love puzzles, go for the Brain Bundle or Sphere Shift.

And that's all I've got for now.