Posts Tagged ‘Premature Evaluation’

Premature Evaluation: Radical Heights

Radical Heights

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s trying to win prizes and also senselessly fight strangers in ’80s battle royale game show, Radical Heights.

With Lawbreakers being left to fend for itself after failing to seduce enough players, Boss Key Productions has pivoted to something that’s undeniably more popular: battle royales. There’s been quite a bit of cynicism regarding Radical Heights and Boss Key’s 180, but not from me, a man without a cynical bone in his body. And as someone who was five at the end of the ’80s, I have an incredibly strong connection to the era. The Poll Tax. The miners’ strike. My first day of school. All the highlights. But how high are the highs of Radical Heights? There’s only one way to find out.

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Premature Evaluation: Make Sail

Make Sail

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s setting off in a rickety boat in Make Sail. It looks a bit like Wind Waker, but you get to build your own vessel. Sadly, it doesn’t talk.

Once a year, usually around the time of Gamescom, I slink off. I stop writing, disconnect from Twitter and flee to the coast of a sun-soaked country that I can comfortably sail around while sipping the cheapest gin and rum I can find. It’s what I look forward to most, every year, and when I return I’m always a more upbeat, raring-to-go kind of guy. It’s safe to say that I love sailing.

Make Sail has tested that love.

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Premature Evaluation: PixArk

pixark

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s lost in PixArk, the Minecraft-inspired Ark: Survival Evolved spin-off. It’s colourful, whimsical and it’s made him extremely grumpy.

PixArk feels like the result of an algorithm designed to pick bits from popular games and Frankenstein them into something new. This is nothing new – trying to capture the zeitgeist can lead to fun places, and great successes. PixArk, however, is not a game that captures the zeitgeist, but rather something hollow, stitched together out of disparate parts seemingly without proper consideration for how they fit together or what made them work originally.

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Premature Evaluation: Darwin Project

Darwin

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser is trying to put on a good show in chilly Canadian battle royale romp, Darwin Project. Are you not entertained?

I want every game to be good, but I confess that I was ready to hate Darwin Project. See, it’s unashamedly a game for streamers and their hungry audiences. Even the main menu, where the ability to link your Twitch or Mixer account is the most prominent option, makes this abundantly clear. Audience participation is built into the very fabric of the game, to the point where players become entertainers. Colour me surprised, then, that not only do I like it, I like it in part because of its pandering to video boys and girls.

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Premature Evaluation: Stormworks – Build and Rescue

stormworks

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s trying to run a successful ocean rescue service in Stormworks: Build and Rescue by building the greatest helicopter ever invented.

I don’t get seasick. I get sea hungover, but that’s really my own fault. The wave of nausea that slammed into me as I piloted my tiny bouncing boat towards a nearby island came as something of a surprise. Between the exaggerated physics and frequently foul weather, Stormworks’ ocean is a vomit-inducing nightmare.

It’s my job to fight it.

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Premature Evaluation – Hunt: Showdown

hunt

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s living out his dream of being one of the handsome boys from Supernatural by hunting down demonic beasties in Crytek’s multiplayer shooter, Hunt: Showdown.

Hunt: Showdown never has any silence to break. It’s always noisy. Every groan, gurgle and scream, even the rustling of leaves — they all echo across the swamp, exploding out of invisible amps. After awhile, it becomes a low, menacing drone; an ever-present threat that you just get used to. The trick – I can only assume, as I’m quite terrible at this bounty hunting malarky – is to cut through the background din and pick out the real dangers. The closest roars. The loudest footsteps. The bullet whizzing right past your head.

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Premature Evaluation: Rise of Industry

riseofindustry

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s hawking his wares to the ravenous consumers of Rise of Industry, a tycoon game about growing berries and other less important things.

You’ve got to give the people what they want. Booze, sex, tasty little berries harvested from a local plantation and driven straight to the farmers market – these people have needs, and for the last week I’ve been spending my evenings with Rise of Industry trying to fulfill them. Well, the need for berries anyway. People go nuts for them – but they don’t care for nuts – and I am the Berry King.

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Premature Evaluation: Eco

eco

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s joining a civilisation and facing down a meteor in environmentally-conscious sandbox Eco. But mostly he’s building a terrible house.

The worlds of crafting and survival games are big balls of resources waiting to be exploited. Normally. Not so in Eco, where the world is a vulnerable, reactive globe that requires respect and nurturing. And only a wee bit of exploitation. It looks like a pretty Minecraft, but while it shares most of its fundamentals, Eco is as much simulation as a crafting sandbox, complete with an ecosystem that can be irreparably destroyed by human interference.

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Premature Evaluation: Life is Feudal – MMO

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Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s going serfing in Life is Feudal: MMO, a game that pitches itself as hardcore, realistic and unforgiving. Fun!

Easily confused with Life is Feudal: Your Own, Life is Feudal: MMO takes the multiplayer medieval crafting and survival game and makes it larger and, through developer-run servers, more permanent. The running theme throughout the series is that life sort of sucks. It’s cruel and dangerous and everyone in it is an arsehole. With that in mind, I have crafted a perfect character: a man so defeated and miserable that nothing is capable of fazing him.

Meet Doderick Soup, the unluckiest man on the planet.

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Premature Evaluation: My Time at Portia

portia1

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the (well-tended agricultural) wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s taking a break in My Time at Portia, a crafting sim with shades of Harvest Moon and Stardew Valley.

Tirelessly exploring early access games takes its toll, so this week I’m off somewhere relaxing: a post-apocalyptic town. Portia is more Ghibli than Fallout, thankfully. It’s a brightly-coloured, charming place, surrounded by vast green fields and gargantuan ruins from the time before the cataclysm. A perfect spot for a holiday, then.

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Premature Evaluation: Forged Battalion

forged

Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s making his very own RTS faction in Petroglyph’s Forged Battalion.

The drones swoop in first, dropping gas bombs on top of unsuspecting mech pilots. The rest of the horde soon follow, announcing their arrival by launching toxic grenades that slowly corrode their victims, accompanied by the traditional wall of missiles. Anti-tank mechs tear into the defending artillery while buggies with rocket launchers strapped to them round up the stragglers. The base is torn down. These are my babies.

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Premature Evaluation: Stationeers

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Premature Evaluation is the weekly column in which we explore the wilds of early access. This week, Fraser’s pottering around in RocketWerkz’ space station sim, Stationeers, and learning that, just perhaps, it’s better to stay on Earth.

Why is a giant egg on top of my microwave? I’m trying to play through Stationeers’ dire tutorial, but I actually feel like I’m participating in one of Gordon Ramsay’s literal kitchen nightmares. In the egg carton, it was very much a normal-sized, innocuous egg, but somewhere between picking it up and mistakenly putting it on and not in the microwave, it grew at least 20 times larger. And I’m not sure I really should be putting eggs in microwaves. Certainly not to make muffins.

I somehow muddle through, making a muffin that I don’t need and fixing a cable that does nothing. Well done me – I’ve completed the tutorial. Lamentably, I’ve retained very little of the excessively complicated instructions required to perform the simplest of tasks. With unearned confidence, I dive into the game-proper, my head full of dreams of lunar bases and SCIENCE. It is dark, I’m alone and I have no idea what I need to do.

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Premature Evaluation: Mashinky

mashinky1

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

meso

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

billions1

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

fade

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

ant

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

dustwind

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

tan

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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