Saturday, August 11, 2012

August 2012 News #1

Hi all, some big tactics game news hit late last month and early this month, so let's get to it.

More X-Com: Enemy Unknown news. Firaxis is adding multiplayer to the game in the form of humans vs alien battles. I called multiplayer a few months ago but it was kind of a no brainer that they'd add it. In my experience, most single player tactics games with multiplayer "tacked on" tend to be imbalanced and ignored. Only fully dedicated multiplayer tactics games like Hero Academy tend to do well in that regard. They also announced a shooting mini-game called "Interceptor mode" to simulate the UFO hunting of the original game. Being a big budget game with lots of nostalgia behind it, X-Com: Enemy Unknown continues to get coverage on the big gaming blogs and sites like Eurogamer and Gameinformer. Here's another dev interview at, and another at Joystiq. The devs seem to love making the publicity rounds.

More details on differences between the PC and console versions of X-Com. I'm glad they're taking the extra effort to make the PC version better adapted to the mouse and keyboard controls along with modding support. I'm tired of the consoleitis infecting most PC games, Skyrim and Mass Effect 3 being the most recent examples I'm aware of. Some PC console ports are so featureless they don't even let you reconfigure buttons or turn off mouse acceleration.

Panzer Corps: Afrika Korps is out now. It can be played standalone or as an expansion to Panzer Corps. Panzer Corps also got a 1.10 update recently that adds smarter AI and enhanced campaign and scripting capabilities for the map editor. In a developer interview,  Alex Shargin reconfirmed that Panzer Corps will be released on Mac and iOS in the future, along with cross platform multiplayer support. Check out the Afrika Korps release trailer below along with some new screenshots.

Frontline Tactics was announced at Gamescom for Mac, PC, and iOS. It's a military squad based tactics game. According to the developer Thomas Lund posting on the TouchArcade forums, "Game is turn based modern warfare. Take Call of Duty and put it into a TBS setting - mix in some RPG elements, configurability, various weapon and skill trees and voila." And who doesn't like turn based cover shooters.

Hero Academy is now out on Steam. While it's free to play with ads on iOS, you'll have to pay $5 to play it on PC. The big gimmick remains the addition of the Team Fortress 2 cast as a playable faction. Speaking of Robot Entertainment, I've been having a bit of fun with Orcs Must Die 1 and 2. It's a fun tower defense/TPS hybrid, and even crazier in co-op mode with a friend. Check out the Hero Academy release trailer below.

New Mechwarrior Tactics screenshots.

More Fire Emblem: Awakening DLC incoming. There are supposedly "high difficulty maps", although what that means in the context of balance destroying, game breaking DLC is anyone's guess. The last I heard players were clearing the most difficult mode in under 5 hours by using broken DLC characters and classes - just like I predicted months ago. Here's an interesting video showing some of the development tools used to make Fire Emblem: Awakening. Unfortunately it's mostly animations and modeling, not any sort of scripting, unit placement, etc. Maybe they do it all in notepad.exe?

The release date for 2nd Super Robot Wars OG for PS3 is Nov 29, 2012. Namco-Bandai released two new trailers to go with the release date announcement, one of which is below. New gameplay details: There will be 4 pilot combination attacks, and pilots will be able to attack multiple nearby enemies with a "chain lightning" style attack that does diminishing amounts of damage. In related news, check out these new SD Gundam G Generation Overworld screenshots .. and don't laugh at the engrish!

A nearly full translation of Tear Ring Saga for the Playstation has been released. Tear Ring Saga is very similar to Fire Emblem due to the fact that Shouzou Kaga worked on the game, who was the original creator of the Fire Emblem franchise. I played through it a while ago in Japanese and it's a solid if unremarkable Fire Emblem-like tactics game.

In more translation news, Front Mission 2 now has a nearly full translation. The same group that translated Front Mission 5 has done another great translation job. I keep hearing that Front Mission 2 is some kind of difficult game, which I heartily disagree with. It might be more difficult than the easily broken FM3, but if you know how to build decent custom wanzers, it's not particularly taxing. It's also sad to note that the Front Mission franchise is more or less definitively dead, with most of the staff gone from Square-Enix. You can find a semi-eulogy on the same Front Mission 5 translation team blog.

Reviews of two iOS games: Great Big War Game and Spectral Souls.

That's all for now.. certainly a lively genre, right?