Fast XLA Game Reviews – project Slypheed, Aces combat Zero, ShadowRun and BattleStar Galactica.

I spent some time this week downloading a few demos and trying them out.

I’m a big fan of arcadey flight / space sims, so I tried Aces Combat (or whatever it’s called) and Project Slypheed.

So Aces Combat – well, it’s damn pretty. Great technology there – looks spiffing and it’s reasonably easy to play. Very easy to get the aircraft in the wrong orientation, and for some reason there’s real height recognition problems, ie judging how high you are from pure visuals is really hard, unless there are high buildings around.
The whole idea of invented countries blows, but ok, I get it, it’s a game, lets not concentrate too hard on it.
Bad guy AI – well, very very basic. Bombers doing bombing runs as sitting targets, helicopters that really hard to hit since you whizz past them at the lowest speed settings and fighters that I never really did get to grips with.
Running away as a demo (or full game) mission sucks. Lets not do that. It’s not fun.

Jesus wept, can we have some variation in the air chatter? And make it actually cognizant to whats going on? Random “How did he get away from me?” crap means nothing to me and just annoys me when I am listening for words from my wingman. If it’s not germane and it’s not regional (ie local to you) then Shut The Fuck Up please.

Project Slypheed. Ahhh, a space sim in that sadly neglected genre. I took up this with glee.
Well, that was a mistake. I’m not wildly keen on the whole japanese anime visual style – I kept expecting my ship to morph into something else transformer style.
HUD is ok – gives you everything you need, plus a couple of new features (weapon / badguy distances for example) I’d not seen before.
Visuals of the game itself were ok – nothing to write home about.
Bad guy AI – not really anything wow.

Now for both of these games I had Major Issues with controlling the fighters. Firstly, can we PLEASE include the ability to invert Y in the demo? I don’t doubt it would be there for the full game but the demo doesn’t allow you to do it for either game, and the default is one I have major problems with since it’s not what every other space sim / flight sim game does in the Y.
Making it impossible for me to control the ship properly does not a good demo make – half the time I can’t judge the enemy AI nor can I have fun while I am CONSTANTLY fighting the damn ship controls.
It’s a Y invert. It’s not rocket science. Just let me do it.

Secondly, both games have major issues in terms of turn circles and genuine controlability. I just couldn’t turn enough, and there was inertia dampning on both games that was way too slushy so when I finished a turn it took time to straighten out.

Now, I know that the idea is that usually you use early parts of the game for a demo, and you need to leave yourself space to upgrade to get better control etc – if you don’t then there’s no need to play the upgrade game. But, and I say this as a root concept A demo should show your game play and make the player feel successful so they want to buy the whole game and keep ON being successful. If that means cheating a bit and giving someone an upgraded ship so they can control it easier, then do it.

Both of these games look like someone had a checklist of features and has done a good job of checking those off. But no one has been playing the damn thing and tweaking it. For sure they weren’t doing kleenex testing, or if they were they weren’t listening to the results.

I am gob smacked by people putting out technically competent games that just aren’t fun because no one spent a weekend tweaking stuff and trying out new balances.

Now, onto a demo I did actually have fun with. ShadowRun.

ShadowRun is competent, tight and lots of fun. It reminds me of when UT first came on the scene. The merging of magic and tech is great, and even the tutorials are fun. Color me impressed.
Some one actually played this before it went out into the world.

I also had a go with the new XLA Battlestar Galatica game.

Well, to be honest, it’s really got bugger all to really do with BSG. You could plug in any license into this and still have a pretty fun game.

It’s definitely the most fun game of Tranz Am>>>>, Critical Mass>>>^, Asteroids>>> 2D Space fighter I’ve had in a long time.

It’s pretty, it’s a small game (you can play through all of it on easy in about 2 hours) and there’s plenty of learning curve for replaying on harder levels, although it’s not a particularly deep game. There’s a limited set of skills to learn and once you have them it’s a bit Two Men in Room With Shotguns, but that’s ok too, since it’s like 8 bucks.

It is fun though, in short term “I have 20 mins to kill” kind of way (which is the way I am these days). As a demo it’s fun, although the fact that it replays that damn cinematic every time you do _anything_ sucks a bit. But it’s more fun than Aces Combat Zero or whatever it’s called.

Whats really nice is that I could do all of it with the engine I’ve built, which is _very_ encouraging:)

Definitely more fun that Slypheed or Aces Combat or whatever those were, thats for sure.

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