Saturday, August 24, 2013

August 2013 News

Hi all, time for some news this month. Gamescom is here and next gen is looking really good.

PS3, 360, and Wii had almost no tactics games worth playing, but with the new indie developer focus on next gen consoles, we might see more cross ports between PC/mobile and console.

New tactics games not mentioned before on this blog:

XCOM: Enemy Within expansion

Steam Marines

Warhammer 40k: Space Wolf

Panzer General Online

Sol Heroes

New Daisenryaku game

Combat Monsters

Ground Pounders

Girl Arms

Stellar Forces

Ground Breakers

Swords & Arrows

Strategic Command 3

Dragon's Dogma Quest

Frost Wars

Other news:

Lots of links taken from Rui Castro's facebook page

Mark of the Old Ones, an action game from the developers of Just Tactics, still in early development

Enhanced Wars kickstarter

Want to donate to Telepath Tactics and get early alpha/beta builds?

Warmachine Tactics on Steam Greenlight

Battle Academy - Rommel in Normandy Released

Rainbow Skies releasing 2014 on PS3/Vita

Star Hammer Tactics remake

Mecho Wars remake

Battle Worlds: Kronos Nov 2013 release

Friday, August 16, 2013

Space Hulk Impressions

Space Hulk was released today on Steam for $30. I know little to nothing about the Warhammer universe. I've never played the board game or collected the overpriced figurines. So I would hope Space Hulk stands up on its own merits as a video game.

In the options, you can thankfully turn off the action cam/shakycam. There's an "input options" section but none of the keys can be remapped. Would be nice to be able to check the manual mid-mission.

There are both autosaves and manual saves, but sometimes the manual save option is locked. The manual doesn't mention limits on saves at all. I'm not knocking limited saves to up the difficulty, but it would be nice to know when you can and can't save.

Hard difficulty is described as normal with 4 max CP and a realtime time limit on player phase. I remember rolling 5-6 CP on hard, though, so maybe it's not working as intended. I don't mind realtime time limits in tactics games for the most part, as long as I'm not being slowed down too much by the combat speed and UI. There's an undo button that lets you spam the RNG if you get a bad roll, although it's not quite as effective on hard mode.

I cleared the 3 prologue missions and 5 main story missions on hard without fail up until mission 6, which seems bugged. The victory conditions state to wake 3 and escape with 2 + librarian, which I did and then some. I woke all terminators, escaped with 6 (1 dead), with the librarian last, and still failed. If I'm wrong feel free to correct me, but that's what the mission conditions say.

Combat speed is about as slow as you'd expect. Your marines move and turn with all the agility of a dump truck, with no way to speed things up. It gets tiring very quickly watching them shuffle around at a snails pace. And yes, the realtime timer on hard mode keeps ticking even as the marines take their sweet time shuffling into position.

Frankly, I don't accept "it's a board game" or "they're meant to be slow" as an excuse. You should be able to fast forward or skip movement/combat animations if desired. The UI is acceptable and responsive, although some of the keyboard shortcuts are on the right hand side of the keyboard, and I had to wrestle with the camera at times to move multiple units at once. It's just the combat animations that are a drag.

Not surprisingly, combat has a very "board game" feel. Combat consists of moving slowly through corridors while saving enough AP/CP to overwatch or guard against incoming hordes of grunts. Every map I played was a series of one square wide corridors with a few 3x3 rooms. There are only two enemy types in the game, a melee grunt and a larger boss sized melee grunt.

There are a few mission objectives to add some variety to the corridor shooting, but it's very repetitive overall. Most of the variety comes in the different weapons you can play with to mow down endless waves of grunts. You get 15 missions total - not a whole lot to chew on unless you plan on replaying for achievements.

Most of the enjoyment of the game will probably come during enemy phase as you watch your well placed marines mow or beat down an endless stream of hapless grunts. If you're a serious Warhammer fan and loved the board game, you'll probably get a kick out of it.

There's a multiplayer mode but it doesn't seem like it translates very well from the board game, which is a local multiplayer match involving dice, board pieces, pizza, and probably beer. You just can't translate some of the board game experience into an online video game, same with online D&D.

They really should add an option to speed up or skip animations and patch the bugs asap, though.

Update: A 1.01 patch was released that fixes the mission 6 bug and speeds up the marines a little bit.