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SPACECOM Review - PC
by: Benjamin and Joshua Goldfarb - 10/02/14
SPACECOM is a real-time strategy game in which you serve as a starfleet commander; navigating various planetary systems with the goal of outsmarting other commanders. Through a series of battles, sieges, and invasions you aim to gain total space dominance. And while SPACECOM’s gameplay mechanics might leave you a bit frustrated at times, it makes up for your skyrocketing blood pressure by offering a minimalistic art style, deeply meditative soundtrack, and a multiplayer mode to settle all of your real life disputes in.
One of the most interest piquing features of SPACECOM are the minimalistic visuals. This game will not bog down your processor with high detail shadowing. Everything is depicted as a simple geometric shape, almost as if you were watching the ships on a radar screen. This gives the player a strong feeling of actually “commanding” the ships, which paired with the entrancing, ambient soundtrack, allows players to really immerse themselves in the action. While the game interface and layout was visually and aurally excellent, we did encounter some annoying game mechanics during our playthrough. For instance, we found ourselves right-clicking far more often than should have been necessary. This was due to multiple essential commands such as unit movement and map controls being mapped to right-click. This meant that a simple misclick when trying to shift the map could inadvertently send your fleet in the wrong direction. What really made this mechanic annoying was the fact that, once assigned, reversing your movement was incredibly difficult, nigh impossible, leaving you with no choice but to watch the action unfold.
After practicing our tactics and learning strategy in single player, we decided to test our skills against one another in the multiplayer mode. This game mode ultimately proved to be our favorite. There is something innately exhilarating about pitting your strategies against your friends and trying to outsmart one another in real time combat, and that’s exactly what SPACECOM delivers. Whether you are a casual gamer or a dedicated fan of RTS games, SPACECOM’s variable game speed settings allow players of all skill levels to command a fleet and taste victory.
There were a few flaws, what with the control difficulties and some confusing gameplay mechanics. However, we have to give it to the game developers at 11 Bit Studios, SPACECOM won us over with the simple and clean design, relaxing soundtrack, and intensely fun multiplayer. Overall, SPACECOM has a few nitpicky problems, but is a solid strategy game and a joy to play! We give SPACECOM 7.5 out of 10. A review code was provided for this story.
by: Ben Goldfarb - 10/29/14
Gabriel Knight returns to the voodoo capital of the United States in the 20th anniversary remake of the adventure classic, Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers. Boasting an impressive visual update and remastered soundtrack, Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition holds a candle to it’s predecessor and boy does it hold it close.
Gabriel Knight debuted on the point-and-click adventure scene in 1993 and has aged well since. The new artwork really helps bring the game to new life. 21 years later, the games content is identical to the original’s. I think this says a lot about the quality of the game. While some of the dialogue seems outdated and hokey at times, the plot line needed no adjustments to maintain relevance in a modern context.
The story revolves around Gabriel Knight, a writer by day and a womanizer...well, all of the time. He catches wind of some voodoo related murders in New Orleans and decides to investigate the murders, hoping to use them as inspiration for a new novel. Suspicious characters and strange occurrences emerge as Gabriel dives into the world of voodoo and Gabriel must make some life changing decisions.I ultimately found the game to be quite enjoyable. The audio and visual updates were necessary to bring this game back to life! It is spooky, clever, and pretty difficult. Others compliment the pacing of the game but I actually found it to be somewhat slow. I admit that I am not the best at these kinds of games, but I solved the puzzles in Portal...I shouldn’t have to use a guide for this. Another issue I had was that the “interaction” mechanics are relatively unique for the genre. While different is not inherently a problem, these differences were not ever discussed or introduced to the user. I would prefer that the controls be listed somewhere in the client. I would give this game a solid 8/10.
Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition is now available for iPad, PC, Mac, and Android platforms. A Review code was provided by Pinkerton Road for this story.
Alien Creeps TD Review - iOS
by: Alan Wasserman - 09/09/14
Alien Creeps TD is a free to download tower defense game that takes place in a time where you become the last defense against the alien invasion. Your mission is to keep the aliens from finally taking over the rest of the world. At your disposal are numerous towers including machine guns and laser turrets. You are also given a hero at the start of the game a Rambo type named Flak who comes wielding a huge machine gun/grenade launcher. Some of the more unique units at your disposal are the ability to call in reinforcements where a drop ship drops off infantry men to a location of your choice and the ability to call in an airstrike which if timed right can wipe out a cluster of enemy units. The most devastating unit though is the Tesla Tower. Usable a finite number of times per mission you can target a group of enemies and wipe them out almost instantaneously. You can continue to use it once all your charges are used up but you’ll need gems and gem’s like most mobile games these days requires real money. You can gain gems in other ways throughout game play but they come in small batches are not easy to achieve.
The game is wonderfully animated; the boards are full of detail including burning oil barrels, flags blowing in the breeze and signal lights flashing. The enemy units are all very unique and are easy to identify once you play the game for a few minutes. Starting with lowly grunts and moving to more terrifying units like Orb Weavers, Hornets and Juggernauts each unit is more and more difficult to kill and does more and more damage to your troops and Hero. All the characters, both villains and heroes alike, are drawn in a caricature style over emphasizing things like large bodies or heads with small arms, legs or other appendages. It makes for a comical take on the impending alien invasion.
As you complete each stage you can unlock upgrades to your units, buy new units and if you wish you may pay extra money unlock new heroes including Roxie the obligatory fiery red head commando in a tight red tank top that wields unnaturally large pistols. For a little more money you can unlock Skybolt who is a Predator styled alien that flies above the board killing from a distance with his rail gun. Heroes can be trained and leveled up as they continue to kill bad guys, so they can become a great asset that can either play clean up and take out units the squeak by your towers; or to put up front to thin the heard before they get to the towers. For me both strategies worked pretty well.
Game play is pretty straight forward for a game like this; kill all the aliens before you run out of life or run out of time so there is not much innovative here. The speed of the game however is a little surprising. I was able to complete the first few boards pretty easily and pretty quickly, (within an hour or so) but that is where the game stalled. Once I made it to the 4th board the game quickly got unbalanced. Even after I used all the coins I saved from finishing the previous board and upgrading the towers as much as I could the sheer amount of enemies that come in over the course 10 waves overwhelmed my meager forces pretty quick. Even using most of the gems you are given at the start of the game to fire the Tesla cannon 3-4 times past the allotted amount I was barely able to squeak by the board.
Additionally you can link your game to your Facebook account and your friends who play the game can send you reinforcements and airstrikes which is pretty nice. You can also unlock achievements by killing a required number of aliens, leveling up your hero to certain level thresholds, etc. These achievements give you a nominal coin reward to help buy upgrades and things.
If you like games like Toy Soldiers, Tiny Defense and even in some ways games like Clash of Clans you’ll love this game. The tongue in cheek humor keeps it light as does the animation. The pay for play aspect you can’t get away from these days, though some games do it better than others. Alien Creeps sets the prices pretty fair for a bundle of coins or bag of gems. The Heroes are affordable if you are committed to the game at $2.99 for Roxie and $8.99 for Skybolt. The game rates for me at 8 out of 10. Enjoyable and fun, each level is replay able three times for maximum challenge and cash rewards. It will reward experienced tower defense players with challenging game play but it allows enough runway for more novice players to learn it, enjoy it, and get hooked.
Xavier S H reviews Xbox One version of Tales from the Borderlands: Episode One "Zer0 Sum". A review code was provided for this report.
Xavier S H previews Xbox One version of Sherlock Holmes: Crimes & Punishments. A review code was provided for this report.