Having learned a lesson about underestimating the quality of the mobile gaming scene, I’ve dabbled a little more into the options at hand. Here are a handful of the games I’ve been playing of late. (more…)
We’re coming back to the oil-grabbing game, which sees you playing as an oil tycoon trying to make some quick cash off digging up precious oil reserves. Last time we played Turmoil, we had oil, gas and stone, along with Diamonds. This time however, we’re back and we’ve now got to contend with magma and precious stones of different kinds, all in the name of earning plenty of dosh. However, will our oil barons be able to handle the heat, as we’re back with the first DLC for the game, simply called ‘The Heat Is On’.
In the midst of the Steam January sale, I spotted a gem that I’d been keeping my eye on, waiting for the day it hit the sale rack. Planet Coaster is an exciting, roller coaster/theme park simulation game. I had been dithering over whether to buy it or not, I absolutely loved Theme Park back in the day, so this was exciting to say the least.
I remember being a child, wanting to go to Thorpe Park and ended up going to a different theme park called Thorpe Park, due to. Instead of ending up in Surrey, we found ourselves in a place called Cleethorpe. From that day, I vowed to create the greatest theme parks in the world – But I was a bit too young, so I played Roller Coaster Tycoon! Now, with the power of smartphones, Roller Coaster Tycoon is on our phones and tables – And no, this isn’t some dumbed down wannabe either..!
While I love Magic: the Gathering to an unreasonable extent – like a borderline addiction if I’m honest – I’m not under any illusions that the game is not without a rather glaring flaw, and it’s the erratic progression of the resources you have to spend. For those not aware, mana is spawned from land by tapping (turning) the land cards, to spend on the cost of a card, for example to play this card:
Would require the player to tap one each of white, blue, black, red, and green mana. Presumably if a player has built a deck with this card as a central figure they would have a wide variety of ways to either find the pertinent cards from the deck or to otherwise generate the mana through other means. Even so that’s no easy feat, and a lot of your deck has to be devoted to creating a wide variety of mana types. Now most people will build decks around one or two colours to make this job a lot easier but it’s still a possibility to find yourself stuck without enough mana of the right type, no matter how well you proportion your deck.
In short it’s a flawed system, essentially functional, but often as cruel and fickle as dice.
Which brings me neatly onto a game I sampled at UKGE as I was wandering the floor exchanging business cards and quietly gathering freebies. I was handed a carrier bag which I found later had two cards in the bottom for Dragoborne: Rise to Supremacy, they were very simple, immediately understandable, and featuring some truly epic artwork, enough to draw me in and drive me to find the stall again and try it out.
Dragoborne manages its resources far more effectively at the cost of some of the otherwise useful cards. Once you’ve drawn your first card in a turn you then draw a second which you commit to your resource pool. It means possibly losing a good card to resources, but it leaves you with a considerably better increment of resources throughout the game. You won’t be caught with an expensive card sat in your hand while your life slips away, just waiting for the resources to arrive. You always begin the fight with enough of your various resources to play any card you might possess, so long as you can wait a mere handful of turns.
Mojang’s CCG, Scrolls, has a similar incrementation method, where every turn you may choose to sacrifice a card of your choice in favour of either more resources, or more cards in hand, giving you an effective way of managing both key components of your game, and if my experience is anything to go by, leaving you screwed one way or the other.
Resource management is one of the hardest things in any given game to balance and still keep creative. With Magic: the Gathering, it’s something of a contract between players and designers, so long as they can produce cards that help manage your mana supply and we have the presence of mind to build our decks with due care and attention, we have a game. A resource management system gives us limited progression allowing for a game that grows organically and fairly. Making them balance well is a task that can bore you beyond tears, and I respect any game that approaches it with a different method.
I’m back to working on an old game design, spurred on by the many enthusiastic playtesters at UKGE, every one of whom had a full table and a captive audience. Management of resource in my game is going to be easy for the players… once I’ve gotten them balanced across several imbalanced factions. Wish me luck, see you next year.
Controversial is the word of the game, a game that promised so much, but yet caused so many to scream that they got so little. This is a game set out in a vast universe, one massive entity where we would be exploring aimlessly for centuries. People would get to see alien life forms wandering around, as well as barren and desolate planets. This is a game that has gotten so many people upset because they don’t have anything more than an exploration game. A game where you gather resources, explore and then we’re done with it. I remember I wrote about how excited I was for No Man’s Sky, because I love grind games. I love repetition and I love to explore. I love the nooks and cranny’s of games, I love Easter Eggs and glitches.
|Platforms||PC (Windows), PS4|
|Windows Release||August 2016|
|Price on Steam||£39.99|
Okay, this bit is a little bit disappointing – But basically the story of No Man’s Sky is just there to get you to really understand what the game is about. During the story, you will follow the Atlas, or you will try and proceed through the universe yourself. You will attempt to reach the centre of the universe, which has been met (with*) (a lot) (of criticism). Rightly or wrongly, the game is about getting to the centre of the universe and then continuing your exploration of the universe. That’s what the game’s story is all about – and that’s it. You can also follow one of a few paths to get to the centre of the universe: Either via the Atlas, the Vy’Keen or presumably by yourself completely.
When I was reading about this game, a long time ago, I remember being excited by the seemingly infinite planets. The numbers blew my mind and that’s what I wanted out of this – To explore, publish my findings in some central database and proceed. I didn’t care for a story and it seems like the story of the game is just there to get you to explore.
The game starts you off on a completely random planet. I found my first planet and started to look around, thinking “huh, is this Minecraft all over again? Procedurally generated world with no purpose?” That made me happy, as that was what I was looking for. I like exploring worlds that a computer has made up – It’s fun! It’s why I like rogue-likes so much! Once you get your bearings, you understand that you need to gather resources, submit your findings to The Atlas and off you go! You need to gather resources and learn how to improve your equipment, as well as fixing up your broken ship – and that’s basically it. You get resources, you fix stuff that’s breaking or refuel anything that is running out of whatever fuels it, then go between planets and rinse and repeat.
The game hasn’t promised to be much else, but of course, people do look into what is said quite seriously. If the developer states that there is to be factions, then of course everyone will want to see this. But then again, when you consider how a faction works… Wouldn’t that mean you would need to have met other people? Those who say that this is only a single player game are wrong, although some clarification as to how players really impact this universe should be made. The issue lies in that people are looking around really quickly and going between system to system. Some people are exploring every planet on their systems – but by the time you’ve bounced between systems, the person who was once there probably has already finished on the planet you’ve gone on. When I got this game, I was expecting to never encounter another person and I have no issues with this. But I know I’m not in a “typical” single player game, in that I’ve seen other peoples systems and other peoples planets.
This is where it gets a bit more interesting. The features that Hello Games promised are in there. The only thing I’m not so certain on is “can you name your ship“, but apparently if you’re the first person to find a kind of ship, then everyone in the game will see the name of the ships as whatever you named it. Effectively, if you found a specific kind of ship and called it a flippyflappy, then everyone would see that. This is true for planets, systems and more. Don’t forget, this is the universe and it’s your job to go and discover as much as you can! You will find a ridiculously large amount of procedurally generated creatures and procedurally generated flora. You can discover them, upload them and name them. You can even name the systems you’re in. I saw a ridiculous comment on YouTube, where the guy claims you cannot travel between Systems. That’s kind of one of the major things to do with hyperdrive, sir..? Yes, you can travel between systems.
By the by, let’s talk about the universe for a bit. You fly from planet to planet, blowing up debris and ships. The Sentinels are a force to be reckoned with, but if you’re like me, you kinda like blowing up the baddies. We don’t really know if they are baddies, but they certainly seem to be against what we’re about. Perhaps a future update could give us more reason to want to go and blow up their space ships, but I’ve had enough of their crap when they eye me down just for blowing up a rock called Dwayne Johnson. I understand these are all giant wrestling fan robots, but c’mon guys.
The full OST was composed by 65daysofstatic. Go give them a like!
To be fair, this part of the review has nothing wrong with it at all. The music is atmospheric, before picking up whenever the game gets a bit more tense. If you decide to attack one of the drones flying around the place, the music quickens and gets a bit more serious. Other times, when you first enter a planet, you will enter to some relaxing music, allowing you to explore at your leisure. The music in the game is beautiful, but it’s nothing that will make you run to the shops to buy the OST. Still, linked above is a sample of the in-game music.
Meanwhile, the audio of the Vy’Keen just sounds like someone going “omnomnom” next to a microphone. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as I don’t expect to understand them… But it does sound a bit weird. Voices aren’t all bad though: The robotic voice who keeps telling you that your suit is in trouble is a proper robotic voice. As well as this, the sound effects in the game are on point. There’s not much to say about sound effects though… I mean they’re great for what they are, but they are just sound effects.
As always, here on GeekOut South-West, we believe that you should be the judge of the graphics for yourself. Since the version I’ve been playing is on the PS4, there’s a limited capability with the screenshots, in that they’ll be somewhat poorer on resolution. Nevertheless, you should be able to get a good idea of the graphics of the game with the following gallery. Personally, I think the game looks gorgeous and even when the procedurally generated lands mess up, it’s still an enjoyable journey through a planet. Here’s our gallery:
So yes, you are free to be as upset as you want with No Man’s Sky. But as you might have seen from the above Gameplay section, they delivered what they promised. If you feel like you’ve been misled, then unfortunately the onus might come back to you. The game never promised a building facility, nor it really promised much in the way of resource gathering. That was something I personally didn’t expect when I walked into it (having watched no gameplay trailers). I can completely sympathise with the anger and the frustration that people feel towards the game, but let’s not take away from the fact that this was made by a tiny team in a small amount of time.
I’m not fully defending this game, for it does indeed need more. I agree with the complaints, wanting to see more happening, but I’m disgusted by the people who demanded a refund even after 10+ hours of gameplay. That’s why this review has been full of links everywhere: I’m bringing all of the points together to explain that both sides are wrong here. Yes, Hello Games need to do more, but they’ve got the ability and the time now to do so. They can implement patches to bring massive gameplay changes in. I’m hoping they take the criticisms on board and actually release some more interesting features, but apparently this is what they’re working on. They have been actively working on fixing bugs, which were found within weeks of the game being released and I’m hopeful that this becomes a bigger game than it currently is… Even though when you consider the sheer number of planets, the game is plenty big enough as it is.
To summarise then, this isn’t the best game in the world (hah, get it..?), but I’ve enjoyed my time in space. There is an air of over-repetition in the game and I hope the developers address this. I also hope that the initial backlash from a very keen fanbase (and the journalist trigger fingers) will not cause too many problems for the developer down the line. Perhaps I’m being too optimistic and perhaps the game will go nowhere, but I want to believe Hello Games will expand their universe… Even if it’s in a bizarre fashion. I tell you, if they implement a building facility into the game (like they’re saying they will at the bottom of these update notes, ) I’m all for it! I’ll inhabit every world I can, build a little
castle base and raise my flag and say “come at me universe”, whilst the toxicity levels of the planet rises… But now it’s over to you. Am I right or wrong in calling out both sides to this story? Do you think I’m being unfair on the people who play the game, or am I defending both sides points fairly? What do you make of the overall game, now that you’ve read my thoughts? Have I made your opinion differ any? As always, thanks for reading and please remember to leave us a comment below, or over on Facebook, Twitter and Reddit.
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