This installment of Weekend Price Drops is unusual for a couple of reasons: first, there’s more good games on sale than there has been in recent memory, and second, there’s a game in here that isn’t any good at all. A mystery!
After the jump, if we crack this case I’ll approve your transfer to Homicide.
You probably should have heeded the rock that started whispering to Rostandos last season.
When I am inevitably banished to desert island for making one-too-many pun headlines, one of the things I will take with me will be King of Dragon Pass. This island has got USB plugs, right?
The App Store has enjoyed a long period of exclusivity with David Dunham’s unique fantasy game, which splices together interactive fiction and empire-building in wildly ambitious way a that no one has had the stones to replicate since the game first came out on PC in 1999. But soon there will be a whole new audience that will have a chance to see it for themselves.
Next week, Androiders will be able to settle their clans in Dragon Pass for the first time: KoDP is launching on the platform this Tuesday, 12 August for $9.99. Soon you will know many things about running a fantasy Iron Age society, Android folks. You will know never to trust dragonkin. You will learn just how far you can push the tribes of duck-men. You will learn that I’m not kidding about either of those things, because King of Dragon Pass is gloriously weird and unforgettably brilliant.
It’s hard to overstate how good this news is. Android has been improving as a platform for gaming over the past couple of years, but there’s still some huge gaps in its catalog compared to iOS. King of Dragon Pass will arguably be the single best game available for Google’s ecosystem come next week.
The port to Android is being handled by Russian devs Herocraft, whose track record ranges from “good” to “please shoot me” but the technical quality of their apps has never been in question. There’s a new trailer for game after the jump.
And oh yeah, he casually mentioned, there’s a brand-new game in the works, too: Starbase Annex, a single-player card game set in the Starbase Orion universe. It’s currently in beta and will be out for iOS in the next couple of months.
Bowling, whose inhuman work ethic reveals him to be a robot cleverly disguised as a man, describes Starbase Annex as a hybrid card/board/puzzle game with 4X elements. “Sounds like a lot when you write it all down, but it plays so naturally its like a match made in heaven.” The game is single-player focused and Bowling intends to ship it with 18 different AIs to play against. Because it’s Chimera Software’s first Unity-based game, it will be relatively simple to port to Android if it does well on iOS, Bowling tells me.
By the way, hardcore Starbase Orion players will want to check the Starbase Orion League that runs on Chimera Software’s forums — it’s currently in season 3 and sign-ups are on right now. You can find a changelog for the new update there as well.
Two more screenshots of Starbase Annex after the jump.
Civ Rev 2 isn’t quite what I was expecting. If you’re a fan of 4X games and never got around to playing the original Civ Rev, then I recommend this new release to you almost unreservedly. It’s a cleverly streamlined version of Uncle Sid‘s genre-defining empire-building game that chisels away fiddly stuff like terrain improvements and lets you get straight into the world-conquering. I like the fiddly bits in the PC games, but Civ Rev’s quicker style of play is a nice compromise when you want some Civ but can’t devote five days to it.
But if you do already own the first game, the recommendation waters get rather murkier. Civ Rev 2, as it turns out, is a dramatic 3D facelift on the previous incarnation, but gameplay-wise it’s an identical beat-for-beat cover. So if 3D graphics are important to you (and you don’t mind the requisite additional battery drain), then go for it. But if you’ve had your fill of Civ Rev already then the sequel won’t do much to reinvigorate your interest. 2K does has one new twist for you: free “Live event” scenarios that will be updated regularly.
Anyway. Blah blah blah blah. Let me save some of this stuff for the Civ Rev 2 review tomorrow. Let’s talk about games that are actually coming out tonight.
Unlike its predecessor, the history-themed empire-building game is rendered in 3D this time, but that bumps up the hardware requirements. 2K warns that the game requires at least an iPhone 4S+, iPad 2nd ten, iPad Mini, or iPod touch 5 — older devices need not apply. I’m going to bump this right to the top of the review queue so hopefully we’ll have a detailed verdict on it within the next couple of days.
But I can tell you this much right now: I’ve done an extensive browse through the options and started one game, and there’s nary an IAP in sight. 2K have called this a premium game and it appears to be just that — a good old-fashioned game that you pay for once and get to keep.
Watch the trailer after the jump which reveals that new leader JFK’s prop is a red phone. 2K should take a page from King Oddball‘s book and let you call him in-game.
2K sent around preview builds of the recently announced and imminently arriving Civilization Revolution 2, and reports are starting to show up online. (Pocket Tactics didn’t receive a preview build but ours is surely delayed by that… ah… internet strike… in France.) The surprise announcement last week wasn’t exactly overburdened with details but let’s see what we can’t suss out from the various previews on other sites.
“We’re on the verge of entering private alpha,” Carmel told me. “We’re currently testing what we hope is the last major change to the game’s design, and after that we’ll start inviting more players and let them start their own games rather than wait for our organized playtests. The game is far from finished, of course, but the core gameplay is there.”
The slow-playing Subterfuge is a multiplayer-only 4X strategy game where players log into games a couple of times a day to issue orders to the submarine captains of their underwater empires. Fleets take several real-time hours to get from place to place in Subterfuge, leaving plenty of time for you to strategize — or collude with other players. A full game of Subterfuge is meant to last for about a week.
Los Hermanos Trese are sentimental favourites around these parts. Their Android and iOS RPGs aren’t super high-concept or beautiful to behold — but they’re made with real love, man. The Treses update their games with a frequency that resembles a rabbit husbandry schedule. Improvements and new content laid are on almost weekly for their entire stable of titles, including space freelancer RPG Star Traders and fantasy dungeon crawler Heroes of Steel.
So let no one doubt the work ethic of Cory and Andrew Trese — and they’re going to need it. Their new game Star Traders 4X: Empires in Exile belongs to that most fearsome of all game genres: the empire-builder. 4X games are consistently popular but their complex clockwork is famously maddening to build. Like skyscraper architecture, dentistry, and cannibalism, making 4X games isn’t a pursuit that anybody dabbles in.
The Treses are putting their hat in the ring with a game that takes place in their Dune-flavoured Star Traders universe, where four interstellar trading guilds compete for commercial dominance. All four of the Xs are represented here, with planet colonisation, espionage, research, trade and more.
I don’t honestly know how well the Treses have carried this off, as I haven’t had time to play it yet. But they’ve got that free version to try, and you know this thing will still be getting weekly updates when the Earth falls into the Sun.
Star Traders 4X has been out on Android for a couple of weeks and is now out on iOS, too. As always, the Treses have offered a free demo version. After the jump, watch Andrew Trese (the elder one, I think) play through 20 minutes of the game.