Skip to main content

Armageddon Empires, Heavy Duty

Two more interesting games have crept onto my radar. One is an already released independent turn-based strategic game. The other, an incredible looking quasi-action strategy sandbox that has been in development for so long I suspect it may never emerge from its Russian-borne womb.

First, the game that is already released. Armageddon Empires is a post apocalyptic war game developed by Cryptic Comet. Sifting through their official website alone, I'm not sure if this company is anything more than a single man operation, but it does mention that there's just not enough good turn-based strategy games out these days and it's their goal to rectify this problem. If Armageddon Empires is any kind of indicator, then they may just have what it takes to reach this admirable destination. (Click here for a 30-turn demo link.)

Armageddon Empires feels very much it originated from a cardboard wargamer pastime. There is your hexagonal grid of tiles, your units are cards placed down on those tiles, and metal clips hold any special abilities you've attached to them. Out of sight but ever-present are scores of dice, rolled for conflict resolution, but the real love of the thing is just in being there with your post-apocalyptic cardboard montage. I can smell the ancient dustbunnies of your basement from here.

You can have up to four factions vying for domination. These run the gamut of the remains of the human empire, twisted mutants, slimy aliens, and killer machines. Each faction seems to be richly portrayed with well drawn unit cards that each seem to carry a bit of a story with them. However, this game otherwise is entirely lacking in high tech frills or even simple animations, and maybe for the better. What the game leaves out, the imagination is compelled to fill, and the euphoric result may be something better than technology alone can provide.

But not all is well in nerd paradise.

It's even more awkward than it looks.

First, the game interface could use refinement. Right now, there's annoying things like tooltips not closing properly and blocking vital functions on the windows behind them. Giving your heroes special orders (such as to attempt to assassinate another hero) is a very painful process. Sometimes, the game will lock up entirely. The developer knows this, and is currently working on refining the GUI issues in this game, but time will tell if the final solution satisfies.

Second, the core gameplay is a bit too random for my tastes. All conflict is resolved through an opposing attack and defense roll. The tougher the unit, the more dice you get to throw and count, and with 10 dice you'll score between 0 and 10 with 5 or 6 being the most common result. In theory, it's an interesting balance that always keeps you on your toes, because even in very uneven fights there's a minute chance the underdog will defend itself. In practice, this can make combat very frustrating: a poor rolling streak can cause you (through no fault of your own) to lose the battle that loses the game. You're not completely without recourse in the face of randomness, as "fate points", tactics cards, and good ol' fashioned maneuvering can help sway the odds in your favor. Still, there's absolutely no sure thing here, and (while some players might find that exciting) it annoys me when my best efforts are ignored.

Still, despite all my harping on this game, I have to confess that Armageddon Empires definitely has my attention. For every complaint I can level, there's probably a half dozen of things they did right about this game. For example, the AI puts up a pretty good fight, and programming smart AIs is hard. Overall, Armageddon Empires is yet another example as to why the gaming business is going back to the independents.

Full Entry: Heavy Duty


The other new blip on my gaming radar has been deep in development for awhile by a Russian studio.

Heavy Duty takes the basic X-Com-like command of an entire planet's defenses and, instead of catapulting you into squad-based tactical combat, it presents you with a hybrid real time strategy and action game. The soldiers are no longer on foot but rather in a vehicle, such as a combat robot or a jet plane, and all combat takes place on the same map: no loading, just zoom in on the planet.

You can pause and give orders to your soldiers to attack and also, if you so choose, take control of one of them directly and play the action game. Apparently, there's also support for base-building, which looks not unlike the base building of the original X-Com but also definitively different. As the video above shows, the planet is well simulated: the ground deforms, you can roll boulders, knock over trees, ect.

In other words, this game is one giant well-modeled sandbox with significant context. To even barely touch the level of achievement needed to do this fueled the success of the Grand Theft Auto series. Heavy Duty could be big... unfortunately, it's been in development for so long, I suspect that it may never be released.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Empyrion Vrs Space Engineers: A Different Kind Of Space Race

In my quest for more compelling virtual worlds, I have been watching Empyrion: Galactic Survival a lot this bizarro weekend, mostly via the Angry Joe Show twitch stream.  What I have concluded from my observations is Empyrion is following in Space Engineers' shadow, but it is nevertheless threatening the elder game due to a greater feature set (the modding scene notwithstanding).

Empyrion is made in Unity, whereas Space Engineers is built on a custom engine.  While this does put Empyrion at a disadvantage when it comes to conceptual flexibility, its developers nevertheless have a substantial advantage when it comes to adding features due to a savings of time spent that would have gone into developing their own engine.  Examples include:
Planets.  Empyrion already has planets and space to explore between them, whereas in Space Engineers planets are in the works but still awhile away (so you just have asteroid fields to scavenge).Enemies.  Space Engineers' survival mode boasts onl…

Resonant Induction Really Grinds My Gears... In A Good Way

From about 2pm yesterday until 8pm today, I've been dabbling with my latest custom mod mix for Minecraft 1.6.4, which is this time very much Universal Electricity focused.
Aside from the usual GUI enhancers and Somnia, the primary contenders in this mix were:
Calclavia Core - Of course: this is the base of the Universal Electricity system.Resonant Induction - This seems to be largely focused on increasingly more advanced methods of refining ores divided across 4 ages of technological progression.  It also includes some really cool things such as assembly lines.  I'll primarily be talking about just a few blocks out of this mod today.Atomic Science - A mod dedicated to generating more of those lovely universal electricity volts via the power of splitting the atom.  Build your own nuclear reactor!  Deal with nuclear meltdowns!  You maniac!ICBM - A mod dedicated to generating more destruction using those lovely universal electricity volts (and more than a little gunpowder), it cer…

Sometimes, The Cat Skins You

The formula for cat girls is simple enough: young girls are cute, cats are cute, so young girls who are also cats are cute times two, right?  ... Cat Planet Cuties (a.k.a Asobi ni Iku yo) does not stop there, it includes girls with guns, nudifying weaponry, and even failed romantic comedy that shows lots of skin.  Cat's out of the bag: Cat Planet Cuties is basically straight up wish fulfillment.

The overall plot is pretty simple.  The Catians are a race so advanced that they have not changed in over 70,000 years.  They discover Earth, a planet whose people have uncanny resemblances, right down to speaking the same language!  Desiring an escape from their cultural stagnation, they rename their own planet from Earth to Catia and dispatch a scout to assess the viability of first contact with this new Earth inhabited by humans.  High jinks ensue.

Other than an excuse to see some fun sci-fi devices, the plot sucks. Let me count the ways:
Kio Kakazu - The male center of our harem, a 1…