Puzzle Kingdoms and Sid Meier’s Railroad fill the DF void.

With some time opened up due to playing DarkFall for PvP only, I gotten around to playing some other games. It’s been a while since I’ve played a quality turn based strategy game (something like Heroes of Might and Magic), yet checking both Steam and Direct2Drive.com, it seems that drought continues in the industry. King’ Bounty for $20 was an option, but lukewarm reviews drove me away for now (but hey, no one cares about those metacritic rating, right? The one who determine who gets ‘top rated’ standing on Steam/D2D? Yea, zero effect on sales I’m sure).

Before I get into what I did purchase and play, I want to briefly touch on Steam and D2D, as I always hear people talking about how great Steam is, yet I never hear mention of D2D, even though both are very similar IMO. Both run specials which drop games to very attractive prices, both have similar layouts that are easy to navigate and make finding what you are looking for quick, both have a large product offering, and both offer fast downloads for delivery. The one knock I have against Steam is that it needs to run in the background whenever you play a game off it, even a single player game. Most of the time this is a non-issue, but when my internet was acting up, Steam had a real tough time getting itself in offline mode, and a few times ‘thought’ it was running when it was not, making actually using it impossible without a comp restart. D2D on the other hand is a straight download, and all the game codes you need when installing are all stored on the website, making the process a very simple copy/paste job only needed once. After that the game starts up as if you had bought it in a store, and you never have to deal with putting a CD in.

Choice of digital delivery aside, the two games I have been playing recently are Puzzle Kingdom (PK) and Sid Meier’s Railroads (RR). Both games are very much on the casual side, both were cheap ($20 for PK, $10 for RR), PK was off Steam, RR I got from D2D during their 50% off 2K games promotion. I’ve had PK for a few weeks now, while I got RR Saturday.

Puzzle Kingdom is of course the sequel to Puzzle Quest, a game I really enjoyed. It’s similar enough in its base structure of matching colors, but changes up what you power up and how you win each fight. It’s not a ‘bad’ game, but it’s terribly easy even compared to Puzzle Quest. So easy that about halfway through I stopped really trying and just started plowing through the fights to progress the story, which is itself awful and even makes you as the hero look like an ass in certain cut scenes (unintentionally). Oddly enough the most difficult puzzles can be found on the ‘side’ items, getting additional troops or spells/items, while the main quest battles are often laughably easy. PK’s main issue (IMO of course) is that it offers you TOO many options, and so falls into the easy trap of allowing you to create near insta-win combos of troops/spells/items. Another major downside is the lack of multiplayer, short of a thrown together and very poor hotseat option. The ‘minigame’ option is also just each puzzle style offered as a standalone game, but again this is lacking as you get more than enough of each type during the main game, and nothing special is done to spice up the puzzles. It’s tough to really recommend PK, especially when compared to Puzzle Quest, as it just feels like a rushed cash-in on the success of its predecessor. Unless you are dying for exactly what it offers, I would wait for a price cut to $10 or even $5, and pick it up as a quick diversion.

Sid Meier’s Railroads is a game I was interested in when it original came out, but after some time with the demo, never got around to actually purchasing. At $10 on D2D, it was an easy grab, and initially I though it was going to be a quick play and forget as it seemed rather easy/pointless at the lower and mid difficulty settings (2/10 score at this point using the EG scale). I’m happy with it currently however once I turned it up to the highest difficulty setting. Going so high up the difficulty setting was a bit surprising for me considering Sid’s other games, especially Civilization, are a solid challenge at the mid levels, and are downright scary/cheap at the highest settings. Once the challenge issue was addressed, the true details of RR come out and you realize behind the cartoony (but good quality) graphics and setting is a decently deep strategy game that rewards forward thinking and takes advantage when you make a mistake. For whatever reason, I love when the AI makes a move to block you right as you were about to make a similar move to block it, as it just gives the game a real feeling of having to play your best and not get lazy. Games of RR are generally a manageable hour or two, and the random map generator so far has done a good job of creating a challenging layout, due to the major challenge of the game being how and where you place your rails in relation to your opponent’s rails. So far (5-6 hours maybe?) it’s been a great title to fill the gaming void until DarkFall launches it’s NA server and I go back to more or less full time with that game.

I also re-subbed our (fiancé and I) two WAR accounts and played some RvR for about an hour or so. It’s going to take some time to re-adjust to the ‘meatgrinder’ style of PvP that is WAR compared to DF, but that should also provide some good filler until NA-1, not to mention a good chance to reconnect again with some old carebear friends.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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7 Responses to Puzzle Kingdoms and Sid Meier’s Railroad fill the DF void.

  1. Maedhros says:

    D2D still running that 50% off 2k games? Always thought about trying Sid Meiers RR and now seems to be a good time.

  2. syncaine says:

    Just checked it, back to $20 now, so seems the promo is over. At $20 it’s not a terrible deal, but whether or not it’s ‘worth it’ comes down to how much you enjoy that style of sim game. I like it, and having actually played RR now, I would say even at $20 it’s a good value for sim/strategy fans.

  3. Werit says:

    I have RR around here somewhere. Had some awful bug issues when it came out… could not even load it. I was a big fan of Railroad Tycoon… may have to find the disks.

    I too was looking at TBS this weekend. I was close to getting Europa Universalis 3 going again with the new expansion packs but got distracted. Hearts of Iron 3 comes out relatively soon too.

  4. Bonedead says:

    I always miss the good Steam deals. Bioshock for $5. Orange Box for $5 (maybe 10, not sure). A lot of games I’d like to play for $5. Miss it all the damn time.

    • Tesh says:

      Aye, I’ve made it a habit to check the weekend deals whenever I can. I picked up World of Goo and Defense Grid for $5 that way, which made me happy, and made the devs money (since I’m not buying at $20).

  5. Maedhros says:

    WOW, EU3….I may have to play that again. Thanks to steam I got the whole catalogue now, Hearts of Iron 2, EU3 plus all expansions.

  6. Lucian says:

    I’ve been playing KOTOR while waiting for the NA-1 release. I never played the game the first time around as I was playing some MMO- as usual.

    I’m really glad I had the chance to check out this old gem of a title. The game is a blast to play and is really helping to pass the time while I wait on the NA-1 release.

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