hot  /  reviews  /  video  /  blogs  /  forum

Real Time Strategy

Pocketwatch Games photo
Pocketwatch Games

Monaco dev's next game is a real-time strategy title built for gamepads


Hear them out
Mar 12
// Jordan Devore
"With Monaco, we took an old school genre (Stealth), we simplified the controls, and then we built an incredibly complex game that could be played at high and low skill levels alike. I want to do the same with the RTS genr...

Review: Infested Planet

Mar 11 // Conrad Zimmerman
Infested Planet (PC [reviewed], Mac)Developer: Rocket Bear GamesPublisher: Rocket Bear GamesReleased: March 6, 2014MRSP: $14.99 Infested Planet is a real-time strategy game where players are given command of a small squad of soldiers pitted against an unending stream of mutating aliens on a mysterious planet. The general goal of most missions is to wipe out the aliens by destroying hives from which they spawn in a slow, oozing mass. Destroyed hives are turned into command posts (or bunkers) which must be defended to prevent the enemy from re-establishing the hive, and provide a place to heal units or spawn replacements for them when killed. The insectoid foes are relentless and will attempt to sneak through any gap in defense, and hanging on to what the player has managed to secure means resources will be spread thin. The size and power of your squad can be increased during the course of a mission, with weapon upgrades and structures that provide passive bonuses and new abilities. These are purchased with a kind of currency earned during the stage by taking over hive locations and retrieving resource crates on the battlefield. The design encourages aggressive play and rewards it with greater power, but the limited size and capability of the squad makes every push forward a chance to lose ground already gained, while the difficulty continues to tick upward with the introduction of new mutations among the aliens. [embed]271773:52940:0[/embed] Mutations are varied and effective at countering player strategies. If you're having a lot of success in taking control points by getting in close with a flamethrower, enemy turrets will develop the ability to push your soldiers back with each shot. Overcome that with a well-placed sniper, and the aliens will erect walls to eliminate line of sight to your targets. There are plenty of them and the variety keeps the game feeling varied and fresh from one round to the next, though it can be a bit difficult to keep track of them all (there are 35 different mutations in total) and remembering the name and function of each is about as much a challenge as developing the appropriate response. The gameplay is tense, hectic, and generally fun. But there are some elements that the game does a poor job of explaining, notably the spawning of replacement units. When a soldier is killed, there is a cooldown period before they respawn based on their value to the unit (a soldier with a shotgun is worth more than one with a rifle, for example, and takes longer to return). But it's often unclear which of the player's control points those units will spawn from and occasionally they'll spawn in a wholly inconvenient place which seems to make little sense. This can result in idle units far from the front line, easily forgotten, their absence dragging down the rest of the squad. The game has some visual challenges as well. While environments and enemy character models manage to strike a balance between function and form, the members of a player's squad are too simple and a bit too similar. Upgrading a soldier's equipment changes their color, but the colors don't contrast enough between a few of the designs when they really ought to be popping off the landscape. Infested Planet includes a 17-mission campaign which serves as a great introduction to the mechanics and strategies, providing a nicely graded difficulty that challenges without overwhelming the player too early, offering abilities over time at a steady rate. The campaign also offers more mission variety, with some stages requiring the protection of specific units or the destruction of specific targets as mission parameters, and some set-piece stages which flip the script and put the player wholly on the defensive. In the campaign, access to the full range of abilities is restricted and unlocked over time by spending money earned at the conclusion of each mission. Money is awarded even if the player loses or surrenders the battle and struggling players can also use it to hire more (and better equipped) units for the squad on a per-mission basis to give them an edge in future attempts. A series of ten additional bonus stages becomes available about a third of the way through, which offer some alternative challenges and an opportunity to earn more money to help with a particularly troubling primary mission. The campaign is a enjoyable mix, appropriate for less experienced real-time strategy players. There is a bit of a story there as well, mostly conveyed in text preceding missions with some occasional mid-mission drama to spice things up. There's not much to get excited about one way or another where the plot is concerned, with a couple of stereotypical commanders (one military, one scientific) bickering over the approach to dealing with the alien threat while your team gets dragged back and forth by both of them. Predictable but inoffensive, the story elements are nice as a backdrop to give structure and reason for the campaign missions but serve little other purpose. Aside from the campaign, Infested Planet offers a "Skirmish" mode with eight difficulty stages, appropriate for players of any skill. Beyond this, custom settings can be applied that control every aspect of a mission to create a wholly original challenge. You can adjust the map size, respawn delay, types of enemy defenses and even which specific mutations the aliens will have access to. It's a flexible, powerful mission tool that will act as an enabler to addicted players who are constantly seeking a new thrill. While there is no form of direct multiplayer to be found, the game does offer some competitive opportunities through weekly challenges and leaderboards. Three levels of the challenges are available each week, with scores and rankings largely determined by how quickly the mission is completed. Weekly challenges can be attempted as many times as desired, with the best score out of all attempts posted to the leaderboards. The feature should give some additional life to the game over time and those looking to compare their skills with others should appreciate it. When it comes down to it, Infested Planet is a fun spin on sci-fi real-time strategy that makes good use of tower defense mechanics in an offense-focused game. A little rough around the edges, it still manages to succeed in creating an experience that is challenging and unique every round while providing options which accommodate a wide range of skill level.
Infested Planet photo
Game over, man
This should sound somewhat familiar: a small band of mercenaries are on a forbidding planet, confronted by a horrific alien force that swarms across the landscape. Well-armed and entrenched, the soldiers have been easily keep...

Blizzard photo
Blizzard

Unsure about Heroes of the Storm? Watch this full match


Blizzard will walk you through it
Mar 04
// Jordan Devore
Hearing Blizzard talk about the Heroes of the Storm alpha yesterday renewed my interest in the game, leading me to this, a commentated match that serves as a nice introduction. Even as someone who doesn't play many MOBAs, I ...
Blizzard photo
Blizzard

Blizzard preparing Heroes of the Storm for public alpha test


May luck be on your side
Mar 03
// Jordan Devore
The "online team brawler" Heroes of the Storm has been offering beta sign-ups for quite some time now. First things first, though: the game needs to hit alpha. Blizzard is inviting "a very limited number of players [in the Un...
Steam photo
Steam

Age of Mythology: Extended Edition teased for Steam


Eff yeah
Feb 28
// Jordan Devore
Even before Age of Empires and its sequel made it to Steam, I had been longing for Age of Mythology to see a release on Steam, or GOG.com, or anywhere. I know you feel me. A developer stream on Twitch has hinted at Age of Myt...
Titan Invasion photo
Titan Invasion

Titan Invasion announced for PS4, PS3, Vita


Cross-buy!
Feb 19
// Steven Hansen
No, it's not a ploy to trick people into thinking they're buying Titanfall. Titan Invasion is a collection of two indie PC games; the Space Invaders-styled Titan Attacks!, which won me over with its well-done trailer (above)...
Legendary Wars photo
Legendary Wars

Legendary Wars marches on to Android


It's about time!
Feb 15
// Wesley Ruscher
It's been three years, but one of my favorite mobile strategy titles, Legendary Wars, has finally come to Android, via the Google Play Store. In this RTS-RPG hybrid you directly control an ever growing army of knights, wizar...
Total War: Rome II photo
Total War: Rome II

Rome II update replaces Indian elephants for African ones


You'd think Creative Assembly would have checked that?
Feb 10
// Alasdair Duncan
In his review of Total War: Rome II, our own Josh Tolentino was left unhappy at the buggy state of the game but was happy with the level of historical accuracy displayed. I wonder if he would have docked the game an extra poi...
 photo

World War II is back with Hearts of Iron IV


A hardcore grand strategy title
Jan 23
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
Another new announcement from the Paradox Convention this week is Hearts of Iron IV, a new grand strategy World War II war-game. You can play as any country that existed during the World War II time period, from Puerto Rico ...
Rymdkapsel on PC photo
Rymdkapsel on PC

Rymdkapsel to see PC launch on January 30


New modes included
Jan 21
// Darren Nakamura
Rymdkapsel, the tetromino-based space station building strategy game with a Swedish name, originally released in May of last year on PlayStation Vita, and has since made the rounds onto Android and iOS. Early last month we h...
 photo

You can download part of Diablo III: Reaper of Souls now


Plus an upcoming patch
Jan 20
// Harry Monogenis
Those of you playing Diablo III via either the Battle.net desktop client or the game's launcher may, from this week, notice a 6GB background download initiate. That's quite big, and for good reason, because that download...
Free Steam Weekend photo
Free Steam Weekend

Play Company of Heroes 2, Saints Row IV for free on Steam


Free to play until Sunday afternoon
Jan 16
// Jordan Devore
This weekend on Steam, both Saints Row IV and Company of Heroes 2 will be playable for free. If you like what you find and want to continue after 1:00pm Pacific on Sunday, which is when this promo ends, the titles are on sale...
Fancy new RTS engine photo
Fancy new RTS engine

This engine could mean massive new strategy games


Oxide Games uses AMD's Mantle for its new engine
Jan 14
// Jordan Devore
Leveraging AMD's Mantle technology, Oxide Games has come up with a new game engine intended for real-time strategy titles on PC and consoles called Nitrous that can handle up to 5,000 AI- or physics-driven objects (like laser...
FTL photo
FTL

New race announced for FTL Advanced Edition


And 50% more ship designs
Jan 01
// Conrad Zimmerman
FTL: Faster than Light is gearing up for its "Advanced Edition" update, coming early this year, and some new information about the content said update will contain has now been released. The biggest news is the addition ...
Natural Selection photo
Natural Selection

A classic Natural Selection map has returned


Blast from the past
Dec 20
// Jordan Devore
I completely and utterly missed out on Natural Selection back in the day and although I have only ever played its follow-up, it is cool to see the classic map Eclipse revitalized for Natural Selection 2. Graphics sure have c...
StarCraft photo
StarCraft

StarCraft II patch 2.1 is all about clans


Icons, decals, and event planning
Dec 20
// Jordan Devore
Blizzard has detailed the upcoming StarCraft II patch 2.1 that targets clan players. An in-game solution for scheduling events for groups and clans now exists, allowing club officers or owners to mark a date, title the event,...
Dota 2 photo
Dota 2

Dota 2 removes sign-up process and is finally open to all


Everyone can play!
Dec 17
// Joshua Derocher
In case you aren't one of the 611,480 people playing Dota 2 as I write this, you will be happy to know that the game is finally open to everyone. While it officially released this summer, Valve had been slowly allowing more p...
PS Vita photo
PS Vita

Eufloria HD spreads to PS Vita on December 17


New controls and a better frame rate
Dec 03
// Jordan Devore
Eufloria has been around for ages, but the stylish real-time strategy game is only now coming to PlayStation Vita with a revised HD edition by Titanium Studios. Eufloria HD has been locked in for a Tuesday, December 17 launc...
New Warhammer 40K game photo
New Warhammer 40K game

New Warhammer 40K game is going to be a MOBA


Storm of Vengeance
Dec 02
// Joshua Derocher
A new Warhammer 40K game is being made, according to Develop. The game is called Storm of Vengeance, and it will be a "lane strategy" game for mobile and PC. Lane Strategy? Really? Does everyone need their own term for a...

Review: Company of Heroes 2: Victory at Stalingrad DLC

Nov 23 // Joshua Derocher
Company of Heroes 2: Victory at Stalingrad (PC)Developer: Relic EntertainmentPublisher: SEGA EntertainmentRelease Date: November 12, 2013MSRP: $9.99 The first bit of the DLC, the Tatsinskaya Raid, is a solo challenge set in the winter with a focus on tank combat. You'll take control of a Russian tank corp, and you can't build any new units. Tanks can heal themselves, but you'll need resources which are earned by destroying planes on an airfield. It's a tough little map, requiring you to play it smart if you want to get through. I constantly retreated and repaired my tanks while trying to lure the enemy out of their stronger groups behind cover. Bridge Defense is the other solo challenge in the DLC, and the name sums it up accurately. You have a small gang of partisan fighters that you'll use to defend a bridge against seven waves of German attackers. You start out without any good weapons, but your soldiers can forage around and find some heavy firepower. [embed]266272:51547:0[/embed] Tatsinskaya Raid and Bridge Defense are good missions, and their focus on small corps brings out what I love best in Company of Heroes 2: micromanaging a few units to take on a larger enemy force. While the huge battles are epic for sure, the smaller ones like these are so much more enjoyable to me. This is mainly due to the fact that I tend to get attached to the units, and thus move slower and more methodically. Victory is always sweeter, and defeats are bitter. There are also three AI battles: Winter Storm, Stalingrad Resistance, and Stalingrad Encirclement. These are all pretty standard fare for the game, and play out just like any other battle, but with new maps. Although there is nothing inherently wrong with these battles, I didn't really see anything special in them. The co-op scenario, Kalach Pincer, is interesting. It's almost a standard match against an AI opponent, but the capture points keep moving around the map. The AI is very powerful, and has troops spawn off the map so there is no way you can crush them completely. You and your friend will be holding out on a point, and then the objective will change forcing you to quickly run across the battlefield before the enemy gets there. It's hectic, and I had a lot of fun with it. It will take you about three to six hours to play through all of the content once, and it will probably take you a few tries to complete some of the challenges. Each battle also has quite a bit of replay value -- you could easily add another 20 to 30 hours of life to Company of Heroes 2 with this DLC. No matter how you slice it, that's worth the price tag. I like Victory at Stalingrad, but it isn't essential for every player. The new multiplayer maps are already available for free, so this is meant more for the players who want to really get as much as they can out of the game. If you are a hardcore player, then you should definitely get this, but if you just casually play multiplayer or co-op with friends on occasion then you'll be fine skipping it.
Company of Heroes 2 DLC photo
More of the good stuff
Victory at Stalingrad is paid DLC that's a part of the larger Turning Point update, which also includes new free multiplayer maps, the World Builder tools, four free commanders, and four premium commanders. The free stuff is ...

New C&C studio photo
New C&C studio

Command & Conquer games will continue with new studio


Kill them like watermelon
Nov 20
// Joshua Derocher
EA stopped development on the latest Command & Conquer, and closed the studio working on it. The game was in its early alpha stages as a free-to-play title, and EA released a statement saying that all purchases during the...
Warcraft photo
Warcraft

Blizzard looking to update Warcraft 1 & 2 for modern PCs


'...we'd love to replay those games for sure'
Nov 11
// Jordan Devore
At BlizzCon 2013, World of Warcraft production director J. Allen Brack responded to a fan request for the company to make Warcraft: Orcs & Humans and Warcraft II: Tides of Darkness compatible with modern PCs. "So, we actu...
Age of Empires photo
Age of Empires

What's this? An Age of Empires II expansion?


The Forgotten is out now on Steam
Nov 08
// Jordan Devore
I had to do a double take when I heard that all these years later, Age of Empires II has a new expansion out. The Forgotten was originally an unofficial mod before its team collaborated with Skybox Labs for a commercial relea...
Free content! photo
Free content!

Company of Heroes 2 adding new maps and World Builder


Custom maps are the best maps
Nov 05
// Joshua Derocher
Company of Heroes 2 will be getting a free content update, that will include the awaited World Builder that will let players create their own multiplayer maps. The update will also add two new multiplayer maps and four n...
C&C photo
C&C

EA cans free-to-play Command & Conquer


Developer Victory Games 'disbanded'
Oct 29
// Jordan Devore
We'd like more Command & Conquer -- without the hooks of free-to-play digging into our skin, if at all possible. I guess it's not. Electronic Arts has canceled the new C&C, which has been playable in an alpha capacity...
Natural Selection 2  photo
Natural Selection 2

Natural Selection 2 community to start a tournament


Developers and the community team up to bring players together
Oct 16
// Patrick Hancock
If you were looking for a heartwarming story, you can look no further. The Natural Selection 2 community, not the development team, has decided to host a tournament. However, this is more than just an online round robin...

Review: Total War: Rome II

Oct 09 // Josh Tolentino
Total War: Rome II (PC)Developer: The Creative AssemblyPublisher: SegaRelease: September 3, 2013MSRP: $59.99 Reviewer's Rig: Intel Core i7 920 (2.66GHz), 6GB RAM, Nvidia GeForce 560 ti (Min. Specs here) First off, any Total War fan wondering if The Creative Assembly has made any fundamental changes to the series' core formula shouldn't worry: Rome II is as much a Total War game as any that have come before, once again delivering that hybrid of turn-based strategic empire management and real-time tactical army battles that form the basis of the franchise's identity. Also being a sequel to the original Rome: Total War, my favorite entry in the series (barring Shogun 2), the game once again allows you to take charge of one of nine major powers (twelve if you pre-ordered) and, by hook or by crook, conquer the known world. Yes, despite the existence of "Cultural" and "Economic" victory conditions, this is no Civilization game. The series is called Total War for a reason, so strictly dovish would-be imperatores need not apply. Rather than true sea changes, Rome II instead implements many smaller, iterative improvements that streamline some of the longstanding pet peeves that have plagued the series, while layering on new systems to greatly increase the game's depth and scope. Because the truth of the matter is, despite its name, Rome II is about more than Rome itself. Instead, Creative Assembly have put together something of a military-minded classical period simulator. The game's playable (and non-playable) powers range from all over Europe to North Africa and the Near East, covering four broad cultural groupings (Latin, Hellenic, Barbarian, and Eastern). The unit roster is practically a who's who of iconic warriors from the ancient world. Mid-Republican manipular legions, woad-painted berserkers, Spartan Hoplite phalanxes, Carthaginian war elephants, Egyptian camel cavalry, and more will all crash against each other in large blobs of slaughter on the real-time battlefields. And it helps that Rome II has made getting to those moments of glory comparatively easier, thanks to a host of updates to the UI and an improved approach to strategic management. In fact, if the last Total War game you played was Rome (or perhaps even Shogun 2), the various changes Creative Assembly has wrought for Rome II expose a potentially uncomfortable truth about the series' strategic component: That much of it essentially amounts to busywork.  The most significant single change on Rome II's strategic layer acts to condense the traditional management of conquered and annexed regions by "bundling" groups of regions into "provinces." For example, the city of Rome herself belongs to the province of Italia, which consists of Rome, along with Neapolis, Velathri, and Ariminum. All four settlements are shown on a single pane, allowing you to manage their building makeup and taxation as a single entity. When every settlement in a region is owned by the same player, special "Edicts" can be enacted to provide ongoing bonuses to things like public order, tax revenue, growth, or other benefits. Really, the provincial system is a minor tweak, but it does much to streamline the "management creep" that tends to affect these types of sprawling, map-conquest games. Rather than clicking on eight regions separately to issue orders, you're instead tabbing through two pages on Rome II's well-condensed central tab, briefly pausing to bring up a tooltip, or summoning a dense encyclopedia for more detailed mechanical help. Additionally, the system adds new strategic considerations, since provinces can only be managed as a whole if one faction owns every settlement within. You'll find yourself agonizing over whether to antagonize otherwise peaceful neighbors because their ownership of a settlement prevents you from "completing" some provinces. My apologies to the Carthaginians and Spartans. You were all put to the sword because I wanted to declare Magna Graecia to be one big party for a decade or two. Other alterations also serve to tighten the experience of mustering and moving armies and fleets. Units can be recruited from anywhere within an owned province, eliminating the old "ant lines" of individual units marching from all across the map to join armies at the front. Moving land forces across water is a snap as well, since armies automatically spawn their own (unarmed) transports when ordered into the drink, and allowing you to say goodbye to the single-ship "mule fleet" of old. A "stance" system allows you to set armies to different postures, aligned for ambushes, defensive forts, or forced marches, giving more dynamism to a typical campaign. Rome II also takes steps to distance its armies and fleets from being generic by expanding the RPG-like character progression Shogun 2 used on its agents to encompass most aspects of the game. In addition to the traditional level-up process and the acquisition of traits, army and fleet leaders can "equip" members of their household to gain more bonuses, not unlike slotting gems in a socketed Diablo III weapon. Even the armies themselves can gain traits as they fight, developing traditions, history, specializations, and even unique capacities. Oh, and they also get their own semi-random names (which can be customized at your discretion).  The result is an ancient world that feels simultaneously sprawling and intimate. The whole map is open to you, to conquer with the aid of your most trusted subordinates, and your most decorated and venerable Legions. The feeling of emergent "story generation" feels almost like XCOM, except on the scale of armies rather than squads and individuals. This all sounds wondrous on paper, but in execution, Rome II's attempts to breath more life into conquest feel a bit too prosaic for their own good. Most traits, household items, and skills convey limp mathematical benefits rather than the dramatic differences their flavor text and stylized iconography imply. Creative Assembly's attempt to simulate the perils of classical politics also falls flat, thanks to an utterly opaque "Faction" system. Replacing the family tree of Shogun 2, the faction system attempts to replicate the wheeling, dealing, and influence trading on the Senate floor (or royal court, if your faction's a monarchy). It's an intriguing idea, but I'll be damned if I can get it to do something I understand. In theory, you should be watching out for overly ambitious generals and admirals, walking the thin line between celebrating their accomplishments and checking their rebellious tendencies. In theory, this would also be the system through which a Roman Republic might become a Roman Empire (and vice-versa). But in practice, the results of your manipulations feel insubstantial, or even contradictory, such as when some political gambits deliver the opposite result from the one predicted by the game's tooltips. The same vagueness affects diplomatic dealings with other factions. Though the game surfaces more information than ever about how exactly your faction influences a neighbor or rival, little of it ends up being of use to bend towards practical results, like trade agreements, alliances, or vassalage.  Thankfully, the complexities and missed opportunities of the strategic layer haven't quite dampened Rome II's bloody-minded other half: Its real-time tactical battles. "More" is the operative word to describe what Creative Assembly has added. Rome II has more units, larger maps, more details, more particle effects, and most importantly, more approaches to the totality of ancient warfare. That totality now includes the most heavily advertised addition to Rome II's battles: Amphibious attacks. Now friendly fleets can assist ground-pounders by landing troops onshore in real time.  And it all looks stunning, to boot. Even years ago the quality of Shogun 2 seemed able to match those of a mid-range shooter, but Rome II ups the ante with complex facial expressions, individualized details, and a new "cinematic camera" that allows for direct control of things like siege equipment, for that extra bit of drama.  The game's AI -- always a point of contention for players -- has received an upgrade, but perhaps not one as substantial as is needed to truly satisfy series veterans. Though I'm rather incompetent when it comes to most games of this type, even I could tell that the AI has grown more reactive, but also increased in stubbornness, almost to the point of passivity. It's less vulnerable to being baited out of formation (though it can still be done), but seemed less likely to take advantage of opportunities. At one point the AI was reticent enough to simply wait and let me make the first move ... during a siege assault it started. Strategically, the AI had a tendency to throw tiny armies at my massive forces without a hope of winning, particularly once I had taken their last province. These kamikaze-like attacks were rarely disruptive to the play experience, but did lead to me clicking "autoresolve" more often than was necessary. But alas, dear reader, the fault is not in our stars, nor in ourselves, but in Rome II's technical state. While it's not quite in the "half-baked" state some critics asserted at launch, Rome II is about as rough-hewn as a Woad Berserker's wooden shield, and one worries that between this and Empire, we may have witnessed the limit of Creative Assembly's ability to execute on its ambitions.  Performance was all over the board for my rig, despite favorable reports from the built-in benchmarking sequence. Perhaps the greatest offender was just how damned long it takes to simply resolve a turn, with the game cycling through dozens and dozens of NPC factions to process their actions. Even with "Show AI Turns" checked off, an early-game turn of Rome II took longer to end than a endgame turn of Shogun 2 at its most crowded. We're talking on the scale of minutes, in some instances. The problem is exacerbated, ironically, by the very changes Rome II makes to speed up play. The provincial system and the streamlining of army movement and mustering revealed that much of a pre-Total War: Rome II game consists of "maintenance" actions, but the result is a goodly number of turns, particularly in the early game, are spent simply clicking the "End Turn" button and waiting for the endless scroll of AI processing to pass through again. Having written that, most of Rome II's issues aren't related to the design of the game, but to glitches and poor optimization. In fact, three major patches have been released to date (and form part of the reason I delayed writing this final review), and significantly improved performance in multiple aspects of the game, including framerate, AI quirks, and even some tweaks designed to slow down the pace of battles in response to player feedback.  All the same, despite the improvements, the patches haven't quite mitigated the concerns expressed above. But it is easy to imagine a point, perhaps soon, when most, if not all of the kinks have been patched out and the waiting times cut down, leaving players with Total War: Rome II its best: a game that can actually make good on claiming "epic" scale and delivering a truly grand strategic experience coupled with blockbuster production values and satisfying tactical challenges.
Total War: Rome II photo
Veni, Vidi, SustÝnui
Picture, in your mind's eye, a testudo. If you're up on your Roman history, you'll know that I'm referring to that ancient Roman formation in which soldiers tightly align their shields to protect themselves from every an...

Dwelvers alpha photo
Dwelvers alpha

Dungeon builder Dwelvers has a free alpha


You know you want another game like this
Oct 07
// Joshua Derocher
I am always willing to check out any game that describes itself as "a real-time strategy game inspired by the old-time classics Dungeon Keeper and The Settlers." Dwelvers is that game, and it just released a free alpha build...

Preview: Castle Story has me stacking bricks for hours

Oct 07 // Joshua Derocher
Castle Story (PC (previewed), Mac, Linux )Developer: Sauropod StudioPublisher: Sauropod StudioReleased: September 23, 2013 (Steam Early Access)MSRP: $19.99 The goal of Castle Story is to build a castle. Depending on the game mode, this castle will be for your creative pleasure, or for defense. The player guides Bricktrons, the yellow protagonists, to mine materials and to build fortifications. In the Sandbox game mode, you can just build as much as you want without having to worry about anything bad happening, and in Survival mode evil Rocktrons come out in waves to destroy everything you love. Sandbox mode is fun, good way to get the hang of the mechanics, but Survival mode is where I tend to have the most fun. Every few minutes a wave of Rocktrons spawns at the edges of the map and rushes towards your Blue Crystal, which is the heart of your castle. The Blue Crystal is how you spawn more units, and if it's destroyed you lose the game. [embed]263123:50792:0[/embed] To defend the Crystal, you'll want to build a castle around it to keep out the Rocktrons for as many rounds as you can. You can also spawn warriors and archers to fight them off. To get more units, you have to collect blue crystals from mining to bring to your central Blue Crystal. This is a simple economy that actually works out pretty well. You need to have workers to harvest stones, wood, and crystals and to keep your castle and units growing. Each round of attackers has more Rocktrons, so after playing for an hour or so things can start to get crazy. You have to constantly build and repair broken walls, and mine to expand your army and workers. The player doesn't really take direct control of the Bricktrons like in most real-time strategy games. Instead, the player sets up tasks and then assigns units to them. So if you want to chop down trees for wood, you have to establish a wood-harvesting task near some trees and then assign some Bricktrons to it. Once on a task, the Bricktrons will take care of moving the goods around and will keep working until they either run out of things to harvest or don't have anywhere empty to put the materials. This system is controlled by a contextual radial menu that might seem a little foreign to some players at first, but once you get the hang of it it's an easy and fast way to control the game. It hides any options that don't apply to what you are clicking on and it's always intuitive to figure out how to do what you want. Building a castle works by laying out a blueprint of what you want first. A blue transparent outline will show you where you want your builders to place bricks, stairs, doors, and arches. There is a limited number of parts available to you, but it's still possible to make a very cool castle from this selection. Once you have the plans laid out, the Bricktrons assigned to the construction task will carry blocks from stockpiles and start stacking them in place. The units move at a relaxed pace, which makes the game calm overall. It doesn't require the fast decisions of other strategy games, and it feels much more like a city builder with its speed and pacing. It's the perfect type of game if you enjoy watching little people carry out your bidding. The animations are fun to watch if they work right, but since the game is in beta that's not always the case. While I really like Castle Story so far, it is still in beta as an Early Access title. Sauropod Studio did recently have a patch after the game hit Steam, but there is still a lot of polish and bug fixing needed to really make this game shine. It's a smaller studio, and the development is slower than some people in the Steam forums would like, but progress is being made. I have lost save games, I have had Bricktrons wander off to their deaths, I have had them get stuck staring at a wall, and I have seen them just not behaving in any way they should. The AI is a little wonky at times, and while this can lead to some very entertaining antics, it can break the game. As it is right now, it's a good concept that some people will really enjoy despite the bugs and lack of polish. Other people might not want to spend twenty bucks on a title that isn't completely ready, but that's an overall problem with anything you buy when it's on Early Access. I've played about seven hours of the build on Steam, and it works well enough for me to enjoy playing. This is still a work in progress, and down the road there will be more polish and fewer bugs, and a world builder to let players construct their own levels. There also might be more materials and units, but nothing has been confirmed about that yet. If you decide to buy the game this early, you are essentially helping them fund the continuing development. It's better than backing most Kickstarters -- you will immediately get a functioning build of the game to play -- but it's not the same as buying a finished product. I really like Castle Story, and I think fans of games like Stronghold or Settlers will also enjoy it -- but just be aware that it's unfinished.
Castle Story preview photo
The closest you'll come to playing with LEGO bricks today
When I first saw the adorable Castle Story at PAX East earlier this year, it immediately grabbed my attention. Its simplistic brick stacking and mining are very enjoyable and addicting, and the animations are a joy to watch. ...







Back to Top


We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Why were we all put on this earth, and where are the best tacos?
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -