Posts Tagged ‘Premature Evaluation’

Premature Evaluation: Mashinky

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Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s filling the British countryside with railroads and smoke in train tycoon sim, Mashinky.

Disaster! I’d barely begun my first foray into Mashinky’s magical world of locomotives when my very first attempt to manage a whopping two whole trains — carriages and all — ended in calamity and death. And also fire. My brand new steam engine had just left the depot near Leicester and was beginning its journey to Kirkcaldy when it rather unexpectedly collided with the only other train in the world. All that was left was a smoking, smouldering wreck. That’s what signals are for, I realised too late.

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Premature Evaluation: Mesozoica

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Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s doing his best John Hammond impersonation by caging up dinosaurs and displaying them in exchange for tourist cash in dino theme park sim Mesozoica.

This summer, Frontier plans to launch Jurassic World Evolution, a licensed dino-park sim. I can almost understand, then, why I’m already playing Mesozoica, another dinosaur-themed management sim. Absent a big license like Jurassic Park, developers DreamInCode B.V. and Squadron Interactive might be keen to beat Frontier to the punch. This early launch is not likely to have the effect they intended.

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Premature Evaluation: They Are Billions

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Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. For the first foray of 2018, Fraser’s been trying to save humanity from hordes of peckish zombies and other undead beasties in survival RTS They Are Billions. It’s a classic New Year tradition from a simpler time.

They Are Billions, at first glance, looks like it might have been the result of a night of video game Mad Libs. It’s a survival strategy game with hints of tower defence, a steampunk aesthetic and waves of zombie enemies. It’s a grab bag of video game tropes and genres slammed together that suggest there might be clumsiness in the way the whole thing hangs together. Thankfully, once the undead hordes start pounding at the gates, that suggestion is eradicated. And so, quite often, is humanity.

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Premature Evaluation: Fade to Silence

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This week’s Premature Evaluation sees Fraser swap a regular Scottish winter for an eternal, supernatural winter that has destroyed humanity in survival sandbox Fade to Silence. Festive!

I really should be playing games about sunshine and whimsy with warm colour palettes and chipper NPCs — here, in the depths of winter, it’s gloomy enough as it is. Fade to Silence has huskies though! Well, they’re wolves, but they do pull sleds. Isn’t that lovely? Winter’s not all bad. Yes, Fade to Silence is a relentlessly miserable survival game set in a post-apocalyptic frozen hellscape, but I’ve always wanted to ride a sled, and I like to think that I’m not the sort of person who would let the end of the world stand in the way of his dreams.

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Premature Evaluation: Empires of the Undergrowth

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This week’s Premature Evaluation gives Fraser the highly coveted job of mucking around in the dirt while managing an ant colony in creepy crawly RTS Empires of the Undergrowth. It gets really dark down there.

“The ants were weak and confused. We should start again with another colony.”

Like so many nature documentaries before it, Empires of the Undergrowth looks like it’s going to be an informative delve into the animal kingdom — specifically the tiny world of our pals, the ants — but instead unfurls into a cruel reminder that nature is terrifying and spiders are dicks. And even here, in this RTS set in a formicarium, the real villains are humans. Awful, awful humans.

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Premature Evaluation: Dustwind

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This week’s Premature Evaluation dumps Fraser in Dustwind’s isometric wasteland, forced to murder other players in grisly real-time tactical brawls. Also it has dogs.

I’ll admit it — I decided to take Dustwind for a spin primarily because of one line on the Steam store page: “Play as a dog.” In post-apocalyptic battle arenas that evoke Fallout and Wasteland, no less. And we’re not talking about your run-of-the-mill, hangs out in dog parks defecating everywhere kind of dog. No, Dustwind’s pooches are battle-hardened terrors, capable of covering the battlefield in mines or manning a vehicle’s turret. How could I say no? How could it go wrong?

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Premature Evaluation: Tannenberg

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This week’s Premature Evaluation sees our early access conscript, Fraser, flung into the nightmarish Eastern Front of World War I in multiplayer FPS Tannenberg. It’s a companion game to Verdun, but the weather is worse and and there are a lot more angry men with guns.

A man sprints out of the woods just in front of my hiding spot, screaming as he jumps over fallen trees. Before I can even figure out if he’s friend or foe, there’s a flash and a scream as he’s sent hurtling through the air, the latest victim of the enemy’s mortar. He lands in the mud right next to me, where he moans and gurgles as the life slowly seeps out of him. It’s a noise I’ve become very familiar with in Tannenberg.

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Premature Evaluation: Deep Sky Derelicts

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This week’s Premature Evaluation sees Fraser exploring rusty spaceships and beating up robots for cash in sci-fi tactics RPG Deep Sky Derelicts.

My first crew, The Fun Time Club, got deep inside an ancient space wreck without too much trouble, but overconfidence breeds recklessness. A fight with a trio of psychotic robot janitors exhausted them so much that they couldn’t get back to their ship. They died forgotten in some unremarkable corridor. Their successors, The Revenginators, didn’t even get that far, failing to live up to their awful name by immediately getting turned into lunch by some ravenous space worms.

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Premature Evaluation: Bermuda – Lost Survival

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For this week’s Premature Evaluation, we’ve tossed Fraser into Bermuda – Lost Survival’s unfriendly ocean, where he’ll have to survive on whatever he can steal from the water.

I have, over the last couple of years, misplaced a yacht, crashed a yacht and fallen out of a yacht. You might say that Poseidon and I have a troubled relationship. I just want to go sailing, but he has other plans. I’ve got some experience with nautical misadventures, then, which is why I expect that Bermuda – Lost Survival will be a walk in the park, albeit a very soggy one.

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Premature Evaluation: Epic Tavern

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Fraser has found himself the owner of a filthy pub in this week’s Premature Evaluation. He’s been playing Epic Tavern, an RPG management game filled with beer and rats.

I now own a tavern, and it feels like I’m finally living out my dream life. I always said, if I wasn’t writing about video games… well I’d probably still be project managing charity events. But if I wasn’t doing that… actually I did consider sticking around at university and getting a PhD. But if I wasn’t trapped in academia, becoming an astronaut or getting paid to be a ghost writer (as in a writer for ghosts), then I’d almost definitely own a pub. So yeah, I’ve really made it. Welcome to The Thirsty Kobold.

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Premature Evaluation: Sunless Skies

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This week’s Premature Evaluation sees Fraser hurtling through the cosmos inside a space-faring locomotive in Failbetter Games’ eccentric early access space sandbox, Sunless Skies.

Narrative-driven games aren’t normally a comfortable fit with piecemeal early access development – it’s harder to offer a compelling vertical slice of a story that’s meant to be viewed as a whole. This isn’t Failbetter Games’ first rodeo, however; the studio has already had one successful early access game in Sunless Sea. Like its predecessor, Sunless Skies has another advantage: it’s a game about making and experiencing your own story through evocative vignettes and quests, rather than following a prescribed narrative.

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Premature Evaluation: Airport CEO

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This week’s Premature Evaluation sees Fraser putting on his nicest suit and running an Airport in tycoon and management game Airport CEO [official site]. Please don’t arrange any flights until he’s finished. RPS does not endorse his airport.

I spend an inordinate amount of time in airports, and I loathe them with every fibre of my being. The huge crowds of people willing to sacrifice their humanity if it means getting on their flight in time; the constant, unrelenting announcements and security warnings; the forty different meaningless passenger classes; the endless, illogical queues — I’m getting a stress headache just thinking about it.

So of course I’ve decided to make my own airport in Airport CEO. I mean, how could anything I run be worse than one of these travel prisons? Frankly, I expect to do such a great job that I’m wondering if this Premature Evaluation is even going to be interesting to read. Sorry.

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Premature Evaluation: Holdfast – Nations At War

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We’ve been sending Fraser off to explore Early Access games. He keeps coming back. This week, he’s been standing in a neat row with new friends while 18th century Frenchmen shoot at him in Holdfast: Nations At War [official site].

During my sojourn in the Napoleonic era, I have seen some terrible things. I watched as an officer yelled at his troops to stand in a neat line, not realising that they’d all been killed by artillery. I witnessed 20 bold soldiers charge across a tiny bridge, all slaughtered before they got the other side. From my hiding spot behind a tree, I saw my allies cut down by screaming Frenchmen who burst out of the darkness, sabres held high. And throughout it all, I drummed.

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Premature Evaluation: The Guild 3

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This week, Fraser’s the one being offered up as a sacrifice to the cruel gods of Early Access. He’s been flung back through time to live his best serf life in GolemLab’s medieval sim, The Guild 3 [official site].   

Being a freelance video game man, I suffer from a great deal of existential dread, and it’s proved to be too much for me, so I’ve packed it all in to start fresh in The Guild 3’s recreation of 15th century London. In my new and improved life, I’m Carlton Bloomer, a rogue, a pickpocket and a feckless ne’er-do-well. Join me as I try to rise to the top of medieval English society using my quick fingers and juggling skills.

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Premature Evaluation: Planetoid Pioneers

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Every week we abandon Brendan on an early access space rock to test his resolve. This time, the janky, comedy physics of Planetoid Pioneers [official site]

My robot head is jammed in a gate. I idled too long by a giant steel door while considering my route through the tunnels, and now the door has closed automatically. My bonce is firmly trapped against the ground as if by a giant mechanical boot. By the time I wriggle free, my bot-body will be all scratched and scraped. I’d like to say it’s the worst thing to happen during my time with Planetoid Pioneers but this isn’t the only ignominy I’ve suffered in my exploration of the physics-based platformer. I’ve been roasted alive, crushed by a boulder, trapped under an elevator, gunned to shreds by turrets, and completely de-limbed by other robots. But I’ve also giggled quite a lot.
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Premature Evaluation: Startup Company

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Every week we give Brendan a small loan and tell him to invest in an early access game. This week, the Silicon Valley-ing of Startup Company [official site]

Okay, here’s the pitch. People love to share their photographs online, yeah? And people love to cook, yeah? Well, think of a food that people love to share, right? No. No, another type of food. No, okay, listen it’s stew, the answer is stew. Right, people love to share stew, that’s what we’re getting at here. All right, so what if you had an app, yeah, that dynamically and innovatively shared stew? Like, not real stew, not actual stew in a pot, but just like little pictures of stew. Collectible stew. Dynamically. I know! I know. We’re calling it StewPix. Read the rest of this entry »

Premature Evaluation: This Merchant Life

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Every week (apart from the past few weeks) we send Brendan onto the early access high road with a donkey and a purse full of games. This time, the penny pinching of This Merchant Life [official site]

Hello. I’m an ex-sailor today, but I’m looking to become a rich and well-known merchant in the towns and villages of a fantasy medieval land. I have a horse-drawn cart, 2000 pieces of gold and a can-do attitude. But these things will only go so far in a world inhabited by highwaymen, spiders, and larger-than-average potholes. Join me as we travel the roads of our non-existent ancestors and repeatedly fail to make any significant sum of money in This Merchant Life.

*cheap BBC documentary music*

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Premature Evaluation: Fortnite

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It’d be easy for me to describe Fortnite [official site] as “DIY Left 4 Dead”. It’s the recent free-to-play zombie shooter from Epic Games [correction: it will be free-to-play but it’s non-sale price is currently £34.99 for a ‘Founder’s Pack’], tasking you and three pals with building defences and scavenging supplies between waves of cartoonish undead, all spawned into existence by a paranormal purple storm. But to compare it so readily to Valve’s co-op shooter would evoke a brilliance it simply lacks. Fortnite is one of the most obnoxiously loud and over-designed games I’ve played in a long while.
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Premature Evaluation – Next Day: Survival

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Every week we abandon Brendan to the post-apocalyptic wastes of early access. This time, the cold, hard life of Next Day: Survival [official site]

I found my new friend sitting in a car outside the Safe Zone compound. The car was broken down and stationary, but he sat behind the wheel anyway. He was making his own speedy car noises and engine sounds.

“Brrrrrrr-brm-brrrrrrrrr. Brrr-brr-brrrrrrrvvvv!”

I stepped in front of the immobile vehicle, wearing nothing but the boxer shorts and t-shirt that accompanied me into this world. I peered through the windshield to get a closer look at the man inside, pretending to drive.

“Oh shit!” he shouted “A pedestrian!”
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Premature Evaluation: Sælig

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Every week we send Brendan into the dark age of early access. This time, the old English village life of Sælig [Steam page]

Sælig, we are told at the beginning of this game, is an old English word that means “blessed, fortunate, prosperous, happy”. All fine goals in the harsh world of the dark ages, where the best you can hope for is a good fire and a full belly. But by the end of my brief time with this Anglo-Saxon household management sim, I would be none of these things. I would be “annoyed, discontent, bored, cheerless”. To keep up the old English, I would be wansælig.
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