Posts Tagged ‘Premature Evaluation’

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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Premature Evaluation: Worlds Adrift

Every week we launch Brendan into the early access stratosphere to see if he can find gems among the clouds. This time, the floating islands and airship building of sandbox MMO Worlds Adrift [official site]

I fell off my sky boat. I’m now falling through the clouds wondering if this world has a bottom – a large lava pit or possibly a vast, endless ocean – and also: how long will it take to arrive there? I say “fell”. In fact, I was forcefully ejected from my ship – the Flabbergaster – by some kind of violent spasm of the game’s inner workings. This isn’t the first time I’ve died to a janky accident of the overzealous physics engine, nor is it the most embarrassing. That honour is reserved for the time I crafted a plank of wood and it landed awkwardly on my own head. It might be difficult to describe the merits of this crafting-heavy multiplayer world while the wind rushes so mercilessly around me but I’ll try, because it has many, despite the jank.
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Premature Evaluation: Colony Survival

Every week we cast Brendan into the early access wilderness to see what friends he can make. This time, he recruits some peasant help to run a farm in Colony Survival [Steam page]

To look at the videos of Colony Survival you might think it a top-down city builder or a blocky management sim. In reality, it’s a Minecraftbut. That once safe and sound (now vastly oversubscribed) subgenre that sees you building a personal castle out of giant blocks from a first-person perspective and fending off nightly monsters, like a really lonely King. But here, you’re not so alone. Colonists in the form of AI-controlled helpers can be recruited to farm crops, mine ore, grind flour and cook bread. This is Minecraft-but-with-serfs.
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Premature Evaluation: Kenshi

Every week we cast Brendan into the early access badlands in nothing but rags. This time, the hot mess of genre that is survival-strategy-city-builder-RPG Kenshi [official site]

You could call Kenshi an RPG, you could call it a survival game. Or you could call it a chaotic jumble of good ideas stitched together via a user interface that would make a Wurm player eat their keyboard in a blind rage. I mention Wurm Online only because this feels like the closest comparison. Except this isn’t online. It’s set in a single-player fantasy Japanese world of skeletal robots and bony animals of burden and it’s got a reputation for toughness. My favourite line in the trailer is: “nobody will help you when the fog-men are eating your legs”. A line both frank and representative. How would I fare in this hostile landscape? Let me tell you the saga of the Gurpson clan.
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Premature Evaluation: Production Line

Every week we send Brendan to inspect the factory floor of early access and scribble angry notes about the development carousel. This time, the conveyor belts of Production Line [official site].

Hello, discerning motorist. Set your eyes on the epitome of motorway luxury: the Safe Family Car Xtreme. It is our debut vehicle and comes complete with an engine and wing mirrors. You might think our car company is behind the competition because there is no air conditioning, no cruise control, and no means of listening to music while driving. But don’t worry, we have 16 of our best scientists working round the clock to come up with a CD player right now. There is no reason to be alarmed. No, I mean that literally. The Family Car Xtreme has no car alarm.
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Premature Evaluation: Rokh

Every week we send Brendan down to the rocky surface of the early access wastes. This time, the Martian survivalism of Rokh [official site].

I only lasted two hours on Mars. I didn’t die of radiation sickness, nor did I succumb to thirst or hunger. I didn’t get struck down by a wayward meteorite, or run out of oxygen and suffocate in my own spacesuit. All of these things are possible in this crafting-heavy survive-em-up. But my time on the red planet was brought to an end by a much more ordinary killer: tedium. Rokh is an absolute masterclass in how NOT to do survival games.
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