Posts tagged ‘Real Time Strategy (RTS)’

Assassins Creed: Recollection (iPad)

A unique and fresh take on the Collectable Card Game (CCG) format.

Assassins Creed Recollection

A blend of a card game and Real Time Strategy, with masses of strategic depth and more play options than you can shake a hidden extendable wrist blade at.

Unique to iPad (currently anyway, there are rumoured plans for ports to iPhone and other platforms), Assassins Creed Recollection has been the only game I’ve played seriously since it launched… it is that good!

The general idea is to build a deck of cards (called a ‘sequence’ in this game) from a pool of 288 options split into 6 different factions (see end of this post for a link to a full listing gallery). You then face off against AI opponents in the 20 level story mode, or for the real challenge play PvP online via game centre matchmaking (or inviting friends).

Each card signifies a ‘memory’ from the assassins creed universe, which you can draw from your sequence to place on the board. Your objective is to score 10 points in 2 of the 3 regions before your opponent does.

AC:R - the game board

You can fill your sequence with a combination of agents, sites and actions, each with different strengths, weaknesses and abilities that can influence how you play your cards and how you can damage your opponents chances. The twist compared to other similar ‘card battle’ games is that instead of players taking turns, this all happens in real-time, with the cards you and your opponent plays taking set amounts of time to activate. This gives time to react but actually puts a lot of the success of playing down to timing as well as playing the right thing, at the right time.

The strategies involved are varied, fun and intriguing. Some really clever combinations can be devised, but nothing is invincible and there is always something else to learn and try.

AC:R Memories

See the full collection and descriptions of cards here: http://www.hatenintendo.co.uk/acr

The interface is absolutely amazing, using the touch screen very cleverly and it’s a joy to play and navigate. The artwork is gorgeous and the overall feel of the game is wonderful.

I love the fact that the sites, agents and abilities are rooted in reality. It makes a nice change from the normal ‘high fantasy’ theme of these types of games that personally I cannot get in to. There’s no magic here apart from the interface 🙂

The downside is that it can be pretty expensive if you want to be able to build any sequence you might want to try, because you can only gain cards through fairly slow progress with free credits for winning games, or buying IAP to buy packs. Chances are you will not get all the cards you want in enough quantities to build a reliable and consistent sequence unless you’re prepared to pour a significant amount of cash into booster packs. However, it’s a really slick and polished game that in my opinion, for the amount of fun that can be had from it and the depth of gameplay compared to most iPad games, is verging on worth it.

Overall I highly recommend this game if you want something to get your teeth into, but be prepared to spend at least a little over the entry price to get access to some different cards and get the most out of the experience.

There is a knowledgable and friendly community already building around the game, so for much more info please visit these!
Unofficial forum: http://acreedrecollection.proboards.com
Facebook fan page: http://bit.ly/acrboard
See the full collection and descriptions of cards here: http://www.hatenintendo.co.uk/acr

Knight Defense HD for iPad

Knight Defense HD for iPad is one of the hardest games I have ever had to review and summarise, but rest assured that it’s for all the right reasons!

It’s just that it’s so unique in the gaming landscape and not like ANYTHING I’ve ever played before.

Knight Defense

It’s got an extremely unique, refreshing and fun feel to the gameplay mechanics, with elements of strategy, action, tower defence and quick thinking tactics. It is very stable and polished to play on touch screen, in fact, I think with a mouse it would be uber-stressful to play!

As you probably know, the game is based on the rules of chess; at least in terms of how your own pieces can move and attack. However, the enemy spawns from fixed spots on the board and move in straight lines towards your King, whom you have to protect through several waves of increasing enemy numbers to complete a level.

Quite honestly, the concept of the game is so pure and comfortable from the off that I’m massively surprised nothing like this has been seen before (at least not by me!). Basing a game on the best real-world game ever devised is pure genius game design really!

The most captivating thing about it is that you can immediately sense there are dozens of ways you can approach your game, from a strategic and tactical point of view.

At the start of a game, you’re allowed to arrange your pieces on the board before activating the enemy waves, so this is your first decision! What arrangement will give you the strongest defence placement and coverage, bearing in mind how pieces can ‘attack’ (for example castles in vertical or horizontal lines, bishops in diagonal lines, pawns 1 square forward and to the side etc).

Secondly, you can use your points to upgrade pieces (8 tiers each, with each upgrade costing incrementally more) but by doing this you take points away from your final score, so you have to balance what strength you think you need versus getting a bigger score for the Gamecentre or OpenFeint integrated leaderboards, if you are so inclined.

Possibly, most intriguingly, your pieces positions are not fixed once the game starts! You can slide pieces around according to the rules of chess and you may have to move other pieces out of the way if you want to get some ‘troops’ forward if their moving path is blocked. This makes for some frantic repositioning mid-game as your defences get broken down.

Some very balanced subtleties come into play such as realising that you can guide the direction of the enemies charges by moving your King around, thus leading groups of enemies into ambushes or even riskier moves such as getting them to go back up the board into the line of fire for a second time (to start with, the human player is at the bottom of the screen, with enemies coming down at you from their spawn points).

Also, when you use some of your points to upgrade a unit, it also replenishes any damage they have taken, so by timing your upgrades when damage has been done you get the added bonus of restoring their health “for free”.

Each unit has a cool-down timer, which regularly unlocks a special ability (each piece having it’s own) which can really swing the situation in your favour if used wisely.

All of this combines to make one of the most interesting, varied, compelling, fresh and skilful strategy games I’ve played. It’s the sort of thing you could get really ‘pro’ at!

Visually, it’s stylish, smooth and colourful, but has a mature feel to it. Sound effects and music complement the action well, rounding off the experience. It is a very stable program with some well implemented features.

I’d love to see how the game progresses with updates. Hopefully it will be successful enough to allow the developer to add some sort of real-time multiplayer mode. This could be the competitive equivalent to StarCraft for the iPad!!

All in all if you like games that require some thought but are easy to learn and to conceptually understand, but with a lot of room for developing your own strategies and ways to play, I can recommend Knight Defense HD very highly indeed!

Frozen Synapse: Tactical perfection

There’s a great new game on the horizon in Frozen Synapse!!

You can pre-order the game now and get instant access to the BETA from here:
http://www.frozensynapse.com

It’s a ‘true’ PC game developed by a group of just 3 clever bods.I’ve only played for about an hour so far so will post a more detailed review once I get some more experience under my belt and venture online, but the basic premise is that you control a squad of soldiers in randomly generated maps that are representations of the layout of a single floor of a building.

It’s a turn based affair, but moves are played out simultaneously. Each ‘move’ has a planning phase and an outcome. In planning you can set waypoints and actions for each of your units, and you can do the same for your enemies and test and tweak the orders for that move as much as you want by running ‘simulations’ of the move to see what happens. The process relies heavily on being able to try to predict what your enemy will do next, knowing what you want to do and the most efficient way of using your units abilities and limited moving ability each turn – and then adapting to the situation when the enemy actually does something completely different!

It’s hard to describe in text quite honestly, as it sounds pretty dull when I’m typing it, but it really isn’t! The games CAN BE fast paced, but as it is turn based, and the system is technically a Play-By-Email system, in theory each move could span days, but I get the feeling most players online will be committed to a game and see it through to the end in one session.

The few games I have had have been a steep learning curve so far… but I understand the principles as it is a very compellingly easy to understand game with insane depth. “Easy to learn, hard to master” are the best sort of games in my opinion and this fits that bill perfectly. I haven;t seen anything quite like it before and I’m really looking forward to see how it develops.

To get a better idea of gameplay check the videos on the website: http://www.frozensynapse.com

And join up to the BETA – these developers are my kind of studio. Customer and gameplay focussed, and they deserve your cash. Each pre-order comes with 2 keys so you can give a game to a friend and play online immediately 😀

The game modes in the BETA so far are:-

  • Extermination
    – First to eliminate all other players wins
  • Hostage rescue
    ~ Escort the hostage safely off the map
  • Disputed
    – Collect and safely carry boxes off the edge of the map
  • Secure
    – Bid on how much of the map, split into grid squares, you think you can control, whilst your opponent secretly bids for the same. The highest bidder plays as ‘defender’ and if you manage to hold what you said you would, you win.
  • Charge
    – Bidding on vertical strips of the map – how far towards the centre (or past it!) do you think you can safely get one of your squad?

…and each of these can be played either in “Light” or “Dark” mode. Light allows you to see all enemy positions at all times, Dark only allows you to see enemies in your units line-of-sight.

The unit/weapon classes so far are:-

  • Machine guns
  • Shotguns
  • Sniper rifles
  • Rocket launchers
  • Grenade launchers

This has got some serious deep tactical gameplay going on and I love the concept… it’s a bit like the planning phases of the older Tom Clancy games that have all but vanished since all shooters have been simplified and turned into pure action shooters. I wish them all the best of luck.

The target release date is late 2010 to early 2011, so get in early and get practicing! I know I’m going to need it! 😀 This is going to be HARDCORE!