Last Days of Old Earth Preview

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Last Day’s of Old Earth puts you in command of the Skywatcher clan on a cold and desolate Earth in the distant future. You command your people to wage vast battles against other indigenous clans to make yours the most powerful.

I went into Last Day’s of Old Earth with certain expectations after scanning through the Steam page – this was going to be a Civilisation clone with a different art style and I would be bored to tears within minutes because, in all honesty, nothing compares to the Civilization series for me. Then the game shocked me and in no way attempted to simply be another clone. It drew reverence from the games I love and built solid ideas on top of them.

With a hex-based overworld, you’ll command armies across a randomly generated map to battle other players moving along the same grid. You build outposts and harvest resources which increase your supply reach. Supply is a key mechanic in the game and you’re forced to stay within your own territory at all times or be hampered with movement and combat penalties. This is made far easier than it sounds with armies and hero characters all being able to build wherever you feel is necessary so never truly felt like the hindrance I initially thought it to be.

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Then things get a little bit different. Your armies are made up of units you generate by drawing cards from a deck and then consuming resources to put them into play. You’ll draw hero characters, resource and combat buffs as well as a whole host of units to play with. This deck mechanic seemed slightly daunting at first, giving you the ability to get in and tinker with a deck building mode helped throughout my experience as I was able to tweak the deck I took into combat for my exact play style. The hero characters add bonus’ and buffs if they are in command of your army and as the only named characters in the game I found some fond attachment to some who followed me throughout my skirmishes.

Combat doesn’t take place on the main hex-grid as an automatic process. You are put into a combat scenario with your units and directly command them to victory. Dice rolls determine attack and defence and even who attacks first at the start of each turn. Combat is very dice heavy throughout the game which can seem unfair and become an incredible annoyance. I could take a far superior force into battle and be nearly wiped out because the dice hadn’t rolled the way I’d like. There is a system in place to help with this – your hero characters are given a ‘Fate bonus’ which allows you to change the dice roll, but this is limited and feels almost unnecessary because of the lack of benefit it has.

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Currently only a handful of modes exist in the build available and players will spend the majority of their time in skirmish or multiplayer. Both these modes are incredibly solid, however doesn’t offer a great deal of variety right now for people looking for something a little more fleshed out.

At its most reductive, Last Days of Old Earth brings together successful elements from other franchises and puts them into a single product – the overworld is a hex-based Civilization game, the combat feels like Heroes of Might & Magic and the deck building elements has shades of a Hearthstone clone. Each core element of the game is so solid it’s easy to look past these comparisons. The mechanics of these previous franchises are simplified and streamlined in such a way I found it much easier to pick up and play than a new player would to other games of this type. The game chooses a singular focus in its expansion through combat and espionage rather than culture and population management and this in turn streamlined the entire gameplay loop. Last Days of Old Earth feels more like a board game akin to Risk than it does a pure video game with its dice roles and differing styles amalgamated into a single product.

Although currently content is a little lacking the promises made at the start of Early Access are already coming to fruition only a few weeks in and I can see Last Days of Old Earth growing into a solid entry into the pantheon of turn-based strategy titles.

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Battle Academy 2: Eastern Front Review

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Battle Academy 2 does what it says on the tin. It delivers a turn based strategy set in WWII on the Eastern Front, which is renowned for some of the most brutal battles of the war time. This game offers control of both the German and Russian forces of WWII. I understand in its predecessor you had the opportunity to command British, Canadian, US Polish and Italian troops. I suppose as both games have the same time setting it would just be repetitive if anything to include these factions.

Whilst Battle Academy is not the most aesthetically pleasing TBS game out there, it does play remarkably well.  In the beginning, you are given a handful of soldiers and tanks to learn the basics of gameplay. This works well in teaching you how to manage your militia, however by the end you are controlling a full army and moving everything each turn makes for some long winded turns; ultimately resulting in long campaign chapters.

The campaign takes place in a variety of landscapes, from large cities, to open fields, forests etc. Where your mastery of tactical warfare will be challenged most is in the desolate urban cities. For example, enemy militia hide in buildings dotted around the city. Your vehicular forces can’t see in buildings, so leading with them down a street, you are bound to lose a few to enemy forces camped up in the buildings. The trick (that I learnt the hard way) is to lead with your ground forces which can identify hidden enemies, but cover less ground per turn. This, coupled with the sheer volume of your forces later in game becomes a tiresome task. When you enter the barren Russian countryside your tanks really get to shine.

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The thing I liked most about this game is that it has consequences for actions. For instance, if you choose to move quickly, your accuracy will be cut as a consequence. On top of this dynamic, if your forces remain unseen, they get a huge bonus on their attack turn. In this respect, the line of sight system works wonderfully (just as long as you utilise your foot soldiers first). How you manoeuvre the map, is completely up to you. But it doesn’t come without consequences, as you traverse the landscape it becomes more about which troops are expendable to you, as you swim through shark infested waters.

This game is a no risk no reward type, and as such, taking risks in this game you never are sure what the complete outcome will be. The AI is competent in being prepared for the dice roll though, and while this never feels unfair, the game does get predictable in the sense you can figure out where the tanks will be sat waiting for you.

Hats off to Battle Academy for not boring us with cut scenes of the WWII story we have heard in about 10,000 variations though. Instead of all that we are graced with a quaint little comic book style opening/loading screen. I commend Battle Academy for this, at this point the WWII story has been used so many times it’s become a drowning whale in the gaming universe for me personally. So in this case it’s a “Thank you for not sharing” situation.

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Now with all the above being said and done, this game shines bright in one aspect above all – its skirmish mode. Once I had finished ploughing through the pre-made maps/campaign segments. You can spread your wings and take flight into your own generated worlds. How they are generated is your choice with a number of variables to choose from, most notable being map size and cover sparsity/density over the area. This mode to me is what truly makes this game in all honesty. I felt more than happy to play this over the out of the box campaign, because you can make a map that suits your tactical style or something completely different which makes you move outside your comfort zone.

I can see this games appeal to people who often play TBS games and war fanatics alike. It’s very two tier in the sense that you can play casually, or you can go to the very bones and learn the game inside out. It offers enough flesh for casual players like me to bounce on and bounce off. This back with a really strong skirmish mode makes for a lot of re-playability as you decide what does, and doesn’t work for you. This game truly is strategy down to its core.

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DEVELOPER: SLITHERINE

Available Now on Steam HERE