Thursday, 26 January 2017

Panic on Motortron

It took a while to finally get around to trying Motor City, but it was always going to have a hard time convincing me to play it for long. It's just not my cup of tea. To be fair to it, it actually did feel like an interesting game if you were of that frame of mind...but I neither like business, or cars particularly, so it just didn't grab me. I also didn't have the manual, which for a hard-core German business sim makes things more than a little tricky. I did try, though. I found some hints that people had written in a forum years ago and used those to start, and it actually was kind of fun for a while. There's a nice built-in encyclopaedia of car history that was a good read, and the graphics are good and old-timey (with some bizarre old nude photos hidden in one of your office drawers!). The game also switched modes quite a lot, keeping things fresh - one minute you're talking to your foreman getting tenders for new parts, the next minute you're on a top-down view of your land plonking down buildings in an almost-RTS fashion. You also get to test-drive and race your cars in a simple driving game. Those are the kinds of things that lifted it above a full-on business sim for me and kept me going. It wasn't long, though, before I was hit by the full force of the numbers - stock control problems, advertising budgets, hiring staff, assigning engineers to develop new products (which could have been fun, but the head engineer won't develop anything that he thinks won't work, and I had no idea really what kinds of things I should have been developing, so it got into an annoying process of trial and error). What finally killed it for me was the time format. Each 'turn' lasts four weeks, but if there is a problem then you get warned about it every day. I had stock issues, which meant I needed to build a new warehouse to store everything in. Normally, new warehouses take something like 20 weeks, so 5 turns, to build, which wouldn't be too much of an issue. But, every time I ended the term, because I had a stock warning, only one day would pass, not the normal 4 weeks. So instead of the warehouses taking 5 turns to build, they would have taken 140, which is just way too much clicking when turns process slowly. By that point, I'd already run into issues of not really knowing how I should design and build my next car as well, which was frustrating, so it was time to stop. A good game for some, no doubt, but not for me. Onwards!

Next up on the randometer is...Curse: The Eye of Isis! I don't really know anything about it. Looks like a fairly recent survival horror in the British Museum kind of thing. Might be fun.

In other news, I'm also proceeding with the great PS3 cull. Next game to be put out of its misery is Trash Panic. I played it for quite a while when I first got it, but never got very far because it's impossibly hard. I found that aspect of it hadn't really changed at all when I booted it up again. Essentially, it's a Tetris-style falling object management game. Instead of the rigid blocks and grid of Tetris, though, here you have freeform rubbish falling into a bin. If you can get the rubbish to fall in the right way onto another piece of rubbish, then it'll break, shattering it into smaller pieces. Different bits of rubbish have different properties, so some will be easy to break (e.g. light bulbs), some will be near impossible (e.g. dumbbells), some will be soft (e.g. sponges), or some might be bouncy (e.g. rubber balls) and cause other rubbish that lands on it to fly out of the bin causing you to lose a 'life'. All of that interplay of different materials does make it interesting in theory, but it very quickly just devolves into a panicked smashing things down as quickly as possible strategy as the rubbish continues to rise (the smaller fragments of rubbish don't disappear, they still build up in a general rubbish mountain at the bottom of the bin). In later levels you do get means to more easily deal with rubbish, such as setting fire to it, or a rubbish-eating fungus, but they come with their own dangers. Now I'm writing this, it sounds interesting enough to go and have another go, but I know I'd just fail on the first level on Easy, as happens 80% of the time. No fun.

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