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krammer

Reviews

DROD: Journey to Rooted Hold (Windows)

By krammer on May 6, 2005

Ants (Windows)

By krammer on March 20, 2005

Deadly Rooms of Death: Architect's Edition (Windows)

By krammer on March 14, 2005

Fish Fillets (Windows)

By krammer on March 7, 2005

Risk: The Game of Global Domination (Windows)

A great conversion of a classic board game

The Good
Board game to PC conversions are usually aimed at those who like the game but don't have the time or enough people to play it with. Risk is great in that it allows you to play exactly the classic board game, with almost all the different rules sets available, against AI or human opponents. However, Risk is not just the board game conversion - it's got a lot more to it.

Firstly, there are 4 new (larger) maps, which make for longer and different games. Then there are other variations - all those in the original game rules are just a click away, and features like Blind Risk - where you can't see anything more than 1 territory beyond your own borders - for those who think the game's too easy. With all the different options and customisations available, fans of the original game will be happy for hours. However, the game's greatest asset is Ultimate Risk.

Ultimate Risk is a completely new game - while maintaining the basic idea, it adds much more, such as Generals, Forts and capital cities, realistic terrain types, prisoners of war, rebel forces, and possibilities of alliances. No more relying on lucky dice rolls to win a battle, instead you choose a tactic and depending on generals, army size, terrain and your opponent's choice of tactic, the game determines losses on each side and the victor. This means that while the game is still recognisable, it requires a completely new strategy, so even if you dislike the board game, you may well like this version.

What else? The graphics are simple enough, but do the job, and the interface couldn't be easier to use. There's no music, and the sound is basic, but really you don't want music as it would be too distracting, and the sound can easily be turned off. The animations in the battle scenes are quite good too. And a major advantage - it's a lot quicker than playing the board game, yet the computer still lets you see all it does on its turns and shows you every dice roll or battle sequence.

Oh yeah - and the game comes free with a second CD for multiplayer only, so you can play with a friend over the Net or across a network with only one copy of the game.

The Bad
There are a few minor flaws. Firstly, you can only save the game - or even quit - at the beginning of a game turn, and if you do save, you have to wait for your next turn before you can quit. Quite why the game couldn't be designed to allow mid-turn saving I'm not sure. Also, the cutscene of the guy being guillotined whenever anyone is defeated can't be skipped, neither can the victory cutscene. However these are fairly short and only distract you for a while.

I had a few technical problems when I first got the game, but nothing that a call to Tech Support and downloading the patch didn't fix.

The Bottom Line
The classic world conquest board game converted to PC, with plenty of new features and rules. A must for fans of the Risk board game, and even worth getting if you don't. A worthwhile investment for any strategy gamer.

By krammer on April 5, 2004

Deadly Rooms of Death (Windows)

A challenging but highly addictive game.

The Good
The game is extraordinarily addictive and it's unique. When I first started playing I found it a little hard to work out what was going on, but by the time I had reached level 3 I was hooked. The game is simple to understand but it requires a great deal of planning and strategy to get anywhere; it's no use just running madly around slashing at enemies. And then you get the satisfaction of watching giant roaches and eyeballs disappearing in a shower of blood. And when you complete a level, you really feel you've achieved something. If you complete the game without help then you are among a very elite group of people.

The Bad
Its impossible! Actually it isn't but it often seems that way. The most annoying thing is the fact that a game can only be saved at the beginning of each room. There is nothing more frustrating than pressing the wrong key and having to start all over again, especially in some of the later rooms. The scream sound you hear when you die gets annoying too.

The Bottom Line
A great game, well worth getting. Just don't expect to finish it within a few days or even weeks.

By krammer on May 19, 2003

Populous: The Beginning (Windows)

By krammer on May 18, 2003

Clyde's Adventure (DOS)

By krammer on May 15, 2003

Clyde's Revenge (DOS)

By krammer on May 15, 2003

Lemmings & Oh No! More Lemmings (Windows)

A disappointing port of a classic game.

The Good
(Note that this review is focussing on the Windows port of the game, not the actual game itself. If you want to know more of that side of it check out the DOS reviews.)

Lemmings was the first real game I played. I was therefore depressed when it did not run under Windows 95 (not easily, anyway). So when I found that it was available in Windows format it seemed like a dream come true.

The fact that this game actually runs in all versions of Windows - even XP - when it came out before Windows 95 is one major plus, and one of the two main reasons I bought it. The other is that it also contains Oh No! More Lemmings in a Windows format, which I had not previously played.

The Lemmings have been improved in terms of graphics - no more are they small blobs of colour, but actually are detailed and have faces (in hi-res mode). Which is another plus if you have a slow computer - the option of a lower resolution. "Visual sound effects" have also been added so you can still know when Lemmings die/get home/finish a bridge even with sound turned off.

The addition of fast-forward mode and replays make the tedious processes of redoing the same bit of a level all over again or waiting for the Lemmings to reach home almost redundant. The password system has been abolished, and the game tracks which levels have been completed - thus removing the need for pen and paper at all times.

The Bad
Sounds perfect? It isn't. Firstly, the game must be run in a window. Maybe I'm being fussy but a windowed game always makes me feel as though there's something wrong with it. Full screen is not an option. Even when maximised it only fills half the screen, the bottom half (and I mean half) being taken up with the toolbar. Scrolling must be done via the standard Windows scroll bar - a real pain in some cases. But the most irritating thing is the way the game has been modified slightly.

1 - Levels removed. 6 from the original and 5 from Oh No. These are the "special" tribute levels and a couple of others. Mind you those aren't the best levels, but I don't understand the point really.

2 - The mechanics. In DOS, as a Lemming blows up he is effectively invisible. In Windows, he acts as a blocker. Bizarre. Also, in DOS when a Lemming hits the top of the screen he turns back. In Windows he goes over the top and, if there is nothing beyond, falls off. Minor points, I know, but they get to me.

The Bottom Line
The first two Lemmings packages in one game and guaranteed to run under Windows. If you played the DOS versions then the slight differences may bother you, but if not then this is well worth getting. It will certainly keep you occupied for a long time.

By krammer on May 14, 2003

Evolution: The Game of Intelligent Life (Windows)

A cool idea, but not very well executed

The Good
First off, it's a fairly original concept, and it's fairly simple. All you have to do is move your creatures around and choose when - and what - to evolve. The tree of life system allows you to decide what to evolve for a maximum score very easily. The scoring system is also good, with the person who gets intelligent life usually - but not always - winning. The background graphics are adequate, and the animations for the animals are nicely done. Music is just right - atmospheric with a nice "jungle" sound, but so subtle that you hardly notice it's there until it goes. The game also has an individual sound for each creature which all sound like animals.

The Bad
My first criticism is that I didn't get the poster and book that were supposed to come with the game, although that may be that it was distributed by a different company. But about the game itself.

To begin with it's clumsy. You have to use menus and windows all the time, when it would have been much easier to have everything on buttons on a sidebar somewhere. Also the map doesn't scroll - you have to use arrow keys or right click to re-centre the map. You can open more windows at different parts of the map but a larger, scrolling map would make much more sense and I really don't see why Crossover did it this way.

Apart from this dodgy system of navigating the game, I also found that it became fairly easy to win. The designers have tried to make it easy for competition to the end, but in practice one player can evolve several species and block anyone else from getting anywhere, because only one person can own each species. Extinction re-opens that path but usually the same player can re-evolve that species more quickly than any other player can.

Also the battle system leaves a lot to be desired. It really seems pointless as you can easily win the game without it and the computer players very rarely use it. Usually the best fighters are those who don't evolve to anything useful so they're really a waste of time.

And finally - it's dull. Time is spent hanging around waiting until your species evolve, then deciding what to evolve next and waiting some more. There is very little replay value as each game is very like the next and can always be won with the same strategy.

The Bottom Line
A unique strategy game which tries its best to make the Earth's history into a competitive simulation. Unfortunately, bad navigation and a far too basic gameplay design mean that this game is not interesting enough to keep anyone's attention.

By krammer on May 14, 2003

Lemmings 3D (DOS)

By krammer on May 13, 2003

Tower of the Sorcerer (Windows)

By krammer on April 2, 2003

Caesar (DOS)

Enjoyable to begin with, but not enjoyable enough to complete

The Good
Caesar has a fairly basic premise. You are a Governor of a province of the Roman Empire. Your goal is to develop both the province and its capital city to a sufficient level to enable promotion, where you will be transferred to a new province.

As such the gameplay involves building your city, running the administrative side of things, developing the province's road network and defending it from barbarian invaders.

The idea seems simple but it can be very challenging. One of the good things about Caesar is that all houses begin as tents. If the citizens like the area, the house will grow into huts, then cottages, and eventually giant villas. If they don't like it they will disappear. This means you have to supply the houses with water, employment, entertainment, road access, forums, and many more. Of course the more you build the more money you need, and as your only income is from taxes you will need a thriving city to get anywhere.

Another good design in Caesar is the fact that your city and the province are on two separate screens and you have to switch between the two every so often to see what is going on. Spend too much time building your city and the barbarians will be happily demolishing the provincial roads.

The graphics in Caesar are nothing special but they allow you to see what is going on easily and are fairly pleasant on the eye.

The game also sets a target - unlike SimCity and similar you actually progress through levels to an ultimate goal (become Roman Emperor). You also have specific standards to achieve under specific criteria.

Oh and of course the best thing is - it's now been released as freeware.

The Bad
Despite the fact that Caesar has been well thought out there are problems with it. My major complaint is that the game is very repetitive. Once you have completed a level the only differences between it and the next are that you start with less money, have to meet higher standards to gain promotion and the actual layout of the province will change. This means that once you have completed a few levels the rest can be completed in almost an identical way. It would hve been nice if new buildings became available as you reached certain ranks.

The battle system also leaves a lot to be desired. The main reason is that Caesar was designed to be linked with Impressions' game Cohort II, but even so it would be nice to have more than four tactics available, one of which is always effective against all the armies in that one province. As it is, once you have built up a large enough army and discovered the tactic to use for that province you win every time and barbarian invasions become nothing but a boring distraction from developing the city.

The sound is also a bit basic and the music very repetitive. Background music is only available while visiting the Forum, and it would have been nice to have it all the time.

The Bottom Line
Caesar is a well-designed if fairly repetitive city-building game set in the Roman Empire. While you probably won't want to play all the way through - I am only on my sixth province and am already fairly bored with it - it will provide amusement for a fair while and as it's free, you have nothing to lose.

By krammer on March 22, 2003

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (DOS)

By krammer on March 20, 2003

Sim Theme Park (Windows)

Not up to Bullfrog's usual standard.

The Good
Theme Park World is a very well designed Theme Park sim. Choose a theme and build a park; from the rides and shops to toilets and scenery. Hire staff, research rides and make visitors happy. In other words, very like Bullfrog's original Theme Park.

There are 4 types of park available: Lost Kingdom, Hallowe'en, Wonderland and Space Zone. Each has its own rides and stalls, although the similarities across parks are fairly obvious. The graphics are well designed and very "cosy" looking. Music and sound varies for each park and is pleasant while being distinctly in the background.

The interface is very basic mouse control, with plenty of hotkeys to speed things up for experts. Path building is simple. Click at one place, click at another and the two spots are joined with path. Rides are simply placed down. Rollercoaster design is a bit complex to begin with because it is completely in your control - place the supports then adjust the height and angle of each one. However I did not have many problems with this.

As mentioned above, there are four parks in the game. Only the first two parks are available at first; you need to collect Golden Keys in order to access the others. A key is obtained every third Golden Ticket you receive. Tickets can be obtained in a variety of ways; big rides, lots of visitors, good money management, happy staff.

Money management is, again, simple - you can adjust ticket prices, but everything else is pretty much preset. Goods in shops are automatically bought and sold - you just alter the quality of the produce.

I also liked the challenges. Occasionally the Advisor (a strange black dot with millions of hats) will issue you a challenge which will be rewarded with money if you succedd. Examples include selling a certain number of goods or getting so mnay visitors.

Oh, and of course the most important thing is that you can walk around your park in 1st person mode, riding the rides and enjoying the views - great fun.

The Bad
First major gripe: it doesn't run under Windows XP. I know, it was written before XP came out, but if it runs under 2000 why not XP? Maybe it's Microsoft's problem, but I know that most Windows 95/98 games should run under XP.

About the game itself though - there are only 4 parks. An expansion pack could be well in order here. Once you have access to all four there is not much more to do. There is not even a higher difficulty setting - this was one thing that actually gave Theme Hospital replayability. In fact throughout the game there are no goals - merely "get golden tickets and keys". Tickets are seemingly random - you can get most by doing very little except building up your park. As there is no way of knowing what deserves a ticket and what does not then you have to just hope for the best. The "no goals" concept also means that you have no way of "completing" the game and so you just go on until you have researched and built everything in all 4 parks and you still don't get a "congratulations" message. This also means that there is no real replayability so you get fairly bored after a while.

Next, the advisor. While he is one of the better designed advice characters, as with all advisors, he is irritating beyond belief. His slight Scots accent is... strange, and he rarely tells you anything useful - although occasionally he does, so you don't really want to switch it off just in case you miss something.

I mentioned the 1st person view above. Although this does improve the game significantly it would be nice if the game didn't go on in the background as you walked around the park - there's nothing more annoying than just getting to the top of a roller coaster and finding that you need to send a mechanic to fix the bouncy castle.



The Bottom Line
A decent theme park simulation. If you already have one then there won't be much in this you haven't seen before, except maybe the first person mode. Even if you haven't got one it is probably not worth getting this unless you really enjoy management simulations - in which case Theme Park World should be right up your street. Just don't expect it to be on the same level as Bullfrog's other, superior creations.

By krammer on February 19, 2003

Sheep (Windows)

No! Not that way, you stupid ... AAAAAHHHH!!!

The Good
Well, when I first found this game it looked very much like one of my favourite games from younger days, "Lemmings". Guide sheep across different worlds to the exit using a human or dog "herder". The storyline also looked cool - I still like the idea that sheep are an alien race who came to spy on us but grew stupid over the generations. The music is also incredibly cool, I ended up singing along as I played which is a good sign. Graphics are nicely done.

There is a system of seven worlds, each with 4 levels which can be completed in any order before starting the next world. The exception is world seven which has only one level. This was quite a nice concept allowing some freedom of choice of levels, although not exactly original.

I also liked the Replay system. In Sheep once you complete a level you can't play it again - in Standard mode. However Replay mode allows you to play all the levels you have already played and there is a separate high-score table for each level in Replay mode as well as the overall Standard table.

Oh yes - and the bonus games are also VERY cool - a nice addition and often more fun than the game itself! There are six of these, one per world, which can only be accessed if the special gold sheep is collected in each level in that world.

The Bad
Pretty much anything else. Firstly as mentioned above this game seems like "Lemmings". It isn't. In the Lemmings games you knew exactly where the lemmings would go, and any mistakes you felt were your fault, or the mouse's - but never the game's.

Sheep, on the other hand, is very unpredictable. The general concept is that moving towards the Sheep scares them away, but this makes it impossible to control large groups of Sheep. The general feeling is of "you stupid * sheep! Don't go that way! There's a trap there..."

Traps - the other major problem. Far too many traps and monsters which will either kill or turn over your sheep - which means you have to pick the damn things up.

Carrying your sheep is also fairly easy - useful when you need one sheep to sit on a button, say, to open a door. But on a large number of levels I simply found it easier to carry the sheep one by one to the exit. This works fine on the Easy difficulty, but above that there are too many sheep and not enough time. ("Easy" is not, by the way - I have not completed the game even on this difficulty).

Apart from the difficulty though, some things were pointless. For example you have 4 herders and 4 types of sheep - you have to use the same herder each time and each breed once per world. Supposedly the breeds and herders have different characteristics. As far as I could tell there was no real difference between the breeds apart from appearance, and the only differences between herders were speed. This was an area which I felt could have been much better done - make choosing which breed to use more of a strategic element.

The Bottom Line
Similar in concept to "Lemmings" but much harder and not properly thought out. A shame really as the concept is quite neat - if only the control system were a little easier to understand and the breed system better planned this could be a nifty little game. As it is, I would only get this if you have an inexhaustible supply of patience - you'll need it.

By krammer on December 6, 2002

Caravel: Deadly Rooms of Death (Windows)

By krammer on December 5, 2002

Bubble Puzzle 97 (Windows)

By krammer on November 20, 2002

Lemmings Paintball (Windows)

By krammer on November 15, 2002

Theme Hospital (Windows)

By krammer on November 3, 2002

Myst: Masterpiece Edition (Windows)

By krammer on November 1, 2002

Lemmings (DOS)

By krammer on November 1, 2002

3D Lemmings Winterland (DOS)

By krammer on October 30, 2002

Dig It! (DOS)

By krammer on October 30, 2002