‘Auto Assault’ Trading Card Game

DENVER, CO - Worlds Apart Productions announces today the immediate availability of public testing for the Auto Assault Trading Card Game (TCG), the digital trading-card game based on Auto Assault the fastest, most destructive MMO ever, published by NCsoft and developed by NetDevil.

In the fast-paced world of the Auto Assault TCG, players pit vehicles against each other in destructive combat. Vehicles can be modified with weapons or other wicked gear, and maneuvers and tactics change the course of the game in an instant. Players win by annihilating their opponent’s vehicle or racing through four missions.

Sign up today to be part of the public test period.

Try out a starter deck of your choice from one of the three main Auto Assault factions: Human, Biomek and Mutant. Testers also receive three booster packs and an additional three packs every evening, and may trade cards with other players.

Starting April 7th, testers will be able to participate in free daily tournaments to win free copies of the Auto Assault massively multiplayer online (MMO) game, which launches commercial service on April 13. From April 10th through April 12th the prize pool will expand to include copies of the Auto Assault MMO Limited Edition package. The grand prize for the final test tournament on April 12th will be an exclusive Hood Ornament for the MMO - Fist of Vengeance (Auto-Repairing Ornament Mk II, +24 Hit Points)! The Auto Assault TCG will launch the weekend of April 15th with a series of release tournaments that feature exclusive promo cards for all participants!

The Auto Assault TCG will hold monthly tournaments that feature prizes of exclusive gear for the MMO, as well as a robust, organized play system in its own right. Check in for upcoming news about the Auto Assault TCG World Championships at GenCon (featuring a $5,000 prize pool!) and The Road to GenCon monthly qualifiers.

‘Reversi Deluxe’ Released

April 5th 2006 - NinjaLab Studios is proud to announce their latest casual game, Reversi Deluxe. Reversi is a classic board game for two players. While the origin of this old game of skill is unknown, the modern implementation of it has never been better than Reversi Deluxe. With multiple game modes and a variety of difficulty levels, Reversi Deluxe can challenge anyone from novice to master.

By selecting the difficulty level you can easily play against a computer opponent on equal footing. There are four game modes included with Reversi Deluxe, including a variety of tournaments and a time trial game. In the time trial there is only two minutes per game, making fast thinking as important as fast acting. Reversi Deluxe features a dynamic rating system to track player progress and indicate skill level of players.

Reversi Deluxe comes with a free trial. Discover if you can defeat the AI on any mode, any levels within an hour. If you need more practice the full version is available for only $19.95 from the NinjaLab Studios website.

‘QuesTrix’ Released

Cubic Games is proud to announce QuesTrix is now available from their website. QuesTrix is a combination of RPG and Tetris. Players gain abilities as the level and difficulty of the game increases. With a ton of power-ups QuesTrix breathes new life into a classic game design.

QuesTrix is the quintessential falling block game. Players control falling shapes and must place them accurately to form full lines. In QuesTrix the more lines formed the higher the experience and score. When a new level is reached players may select a special ability or upgrade existing abilities, but with each new level the game’s difficulty increases as well.

Abilities include:

- Explosives, which have the power to destroy sets of unwanted blocks

- Drilling power, allowing players to drill straight to the bottom of the board,

- Filling power, allowing players to fill in holes,

- And an assortment of artifacts, such as ghost tiles, parachutes, and more.

QuesTrix comes with a completely risk free demo and 30 day money back guarantee.

‘Lux’ Review (PC)

Gee, Brain, what are we going to do tonight? The same thing we do every night Pinky. Try to take over the world! Sorry, I just had to use that quote, because when else am I going to be able to quote Pinky and the Brain, but inside the review of a game about world domination.

If you are anything like me then board games are nothing more than boxes collecting dust in some closet or attic right about now. Oh sure, when I was younger I loved games such as Shoots and Ladders, Trouble, and the occasional game of Monopoly (though perhaps too advanced for younger players since we had no clue about buying property and the such…we usually only cared about who got to be the car). One board game that I never played, perhaps because of the Napoleon looking fellow and all those spaces on the board and pieces looked too confounding, was Risk. I’ve heard from others about great games they had while playing Risk and all the strategy that goes into a successful game and how fun they can be, but with all the new fangled gaming options available who cares about the Risk board game anymore?

Sillysoft apparently, and you know what, it isn’t half that bad.

Lux is for all intensive purposes the original game of Risk, available for you to play on your computer, with options to play against either the computer controlled AI or against other players you connect with online. As soon as you fire up the game, you have several options available to you. If you choose to play against the AI, you’ll start by picking what map you want to play. The maps range from the standard Risk map (the entire world with you vying for various countries) to Castle Lux-Merchants (a medieval setting) to Space Stations and the Vietnam War. After you pick what map you want to play on, you’ll then fix yourself up with your competition. With up to five other colors/players to go up against, you’ll then choose their AI to give you the most competition based on your level of play. Some of the various AI are listed as Communist, Stinky, Pixie, Evil, Medium, Hard, and Killbot — these are just a few of the options.

Lux starts by placing you and your opponents on the board of your choosing and then the round commences. At the beginning of each round you’ll start off with three additional soldiers, which you can then use to either add to existing troop totals you already have or either start a new troop on a piece of occupied land you already have. Since the game is all about completely dominating the boards, you’ll want to amass great squadrons and begin moving your pieces around the board and doing battle with other enemy troops vying for the same land you are.

Obviously, the game is one about numbers, as the more land you control and the more soldiers you own the better chance you’ll have of winning the game. A good way to start off is by trying to branch out and seize control of an entire region like all of North America, Africa, and so on. As you take control of these regions you’ll gain bonuses, which mean more additional troops at the beginning of every turn, and this number gradually goes up as the number of rounds increases. Besides amounting a solid force, it is vitally important to seal off borders so enemies don’t invade your country. For example, lines connect certain areas like Asian and North America, and depending on which part you are on, it would be wise to position a squad on the country the enemy would have to attack to dissuade them to make a move against you and invade.

Combat in Lux is strictly by the numbers, though it does seem random. For example, you’d think a seven squad would beat a five squad every time, but that simply isn’t the case. To do combat you first must position your soldiers in a piece of land that touches the land of another area occupied by enemy troops. Then, after your troops are in position, you simply left click to do battle, and if you manage to destroy all the soldiers you’ll takeover their land and occupy it yourself with whatever amount of forces you have left.

You’ll also be awarded bonus cards every so often, which translate into even more troops to position at your disposal, and then finally you get to start making some headway into conquering the world (or whatever map you choose). Depending on what map you choose to use, a typical game of Lux can range anywhere to a couple of minutes to possibly a half an hour or more (time really depends on skill of the player and the amount of board space that is required to dominate).

The thing that really makes Lux a winner is the mod community and all the different maps and computer AIs you can download and install into your game. If you can’t find a map out of these then you just aren’t looking hard enough. You can choose to download war specific maps, state specific maps (rage war in…Pennsylvania?), and even maps for sci-fi fare such as Babylon 5. There are also a handful of enemy AI programs you can download, but be warned as most of these are butt kicking hard and only for those players who really know what they’re doing and have manhandled the current ones left and right.

If none of those works for you, you can always go to the map editor or go and edit your own enemy AI. Both take a bit of skill to use, but the map editor is the easiest one of the two to use. I can’t comment on the enemy AI creation, because, well, I don’t know anything about using Java as a programming language. If you do know Java though then get ready to code the wickedest enemy AI you could ever dare to imagine.

The graphics are pretty simple and are certainly nothing that should put some real wear and tear on your graphics card. The quality of the maps range from the simple shapes and colors of the typical Risk board (not much flash at all) to the more visually pleasing maps such as the Vietnam War and 3D objects on the Castle Lux-Merchants map). The only real graphics besides the board themselves are the explosions that occur when battling an enemy troop or trying to takeover a piece of land; the explosions aren’t much, but at least they represent battle well instead of numbers just dwindling down to show fighting is going on.

Lux is almost lacking any sound at all, as the only noises you’ll hear is the explosions going off and the death cry of an enemy after you’ve vanquished them from the board.

Lux is an odd beast to review. If you love Risk then Lux is probably a no-brainer, but for everyone else out there the decision on Lux gets a bit tricky. I really had no opinion of the game when going into it, but after spending some time with the game I could see how it could fill a niche nicely to some gamers out there. If you have even a passing interest in Lux then be sure to at least give the demo a run through its paces, but if your idea of fun isn’t playing an electronic version of a board game on your computer, then nothing about Lux will probably change your disposition.

RATING: 3 out of 5
Our Scoring System

‘Dragon Orbs’ Released

April 3rd 2006- Alternate Reality Studios is proud to release its very first game, Dragon Orbs. Control a young dragon as it flies over the countryside. Use your orbs to break the barriers that get in your way. Dragon Orbs is an action puzzle game where wits meet fireballs.

Dragon Orbs features over 50 levels of play as you guide the baby dragon on his adventure to learn to breathe fire. Match the magic orbs to form chains of colors and use your fire to blast away unwanted pieces. Dragon Orbs comes with a fully functional editor to create custom levels after mastering the many hours of play that comes with the game.

Dragon Orbs features a free 5 level download to get started on discovering the secret to breathing fire. The download is available from the Alternate Reality Studios website.

Tetris Creator Alexey Pajitnov Releases ‘Dwice’

March 30th, 2006 - WildSnake Software is excited to announce their collaboration with Alexey Pajitnov, famed creator of Tetris, has produced the first title in their new line of puzzle games. Alexey’s Dwice represents an innovative new approach to action puzzle games.

Alexey’s Dwice is a game of action matching where you are on a race against the clock to save a village from an impending avalanche. Match together the icy blocks that are the same shape or isolate them from their chilly friends to eliminate them from the board. Move fast because more blocks are always sliding down the mountain. Collect special power ups, like explosives, fire lines, and ice picks to help clear the blocks.

Alexey’s Dwice comes with two different game modes. The adventure game mode lets you travel from location to location, saving the many villages from a long winter. Arcade Mode represents a more traditional Alexey’s products, where a never ending avalanche awaits the skill and speed required to push it back for as long as possible.

“It is a great honor to work alongside someone as well respected as Alexey,” said Andy Nick, owner of WildsnakeT Software, “We look forward to producing more titles along the same lines and quality levels as Alexey’s Dwice in the near future.”

Alexey’s Dwice comes with a free demo download available at the Wildsnake website.

Dominions of Domination!

Hampstead, NC, 29 March 2006

The stars must be right! Across the world the cult of Dominions grows, and now their members have showered the altar of Illwinter with boons most numerous. All this in preparation for the arrival of the most glorious awakened one, whose coming will signal the end of sleep and the dawning of a new age. An age that celebrates the ecstasy of glorious turn-based gaming, an age whose mantra will be one more turn. The path is clear; hail Dominions 3: The Awakening and hail those who have already pledged their loyalty!

For those of you playing at home that don’t keep a copy of De Vermis Mysteris next to your porcelain throne allow us to translate the gist: “People love the Dominions series. They really do. In fact, they love it so much that they’ve shattered all other previous pre-order records at Shrapnel Games!”

That’s right, shattered. As in smashed, annihilated, crushed. We knew Dominions 3: The Awakening would be a hot title, but even we were surprised at the intensity of the pre-orders rolling in. The first week of pre-orders was simply amazing. Shrapnel Games and Illwinter Game Design would like to thank each and every one of you. Your love and support for innovative games that flex your gray matter is awesome. Thank you!

Word of mouth is one of the most effective ways to spread your Dominions love, so be sure to tell your friends, family, co-workers, and strangers on the street about the upcoming Dominions 3: The Awakening. While we’re celebrating how well the first week of pre-sales went there’s no reason not to expect the trend to continue, if not even grow. Remember, the pre-order price of $47.50 is good all the way through May 20th, so there’s plenty of time to get folks in on this pre-order price action!

Dominions 3: The Awakening is the multi-OS turn-based fantasy game of monsters, myths, and magic, and is the follow-up to the critically acclaimed Dominions 2: The Ascension Wars. Currently in pre-order and final testing, Dominions 3 is slated for release this summer.

Featuring fifty different nations, hundreds upon hundreds of units, items, and spells, twenty-one player games, replayabilty out the wazoo, and so many gameplay elements you could make a dozen games out of it, Dominions 3: The Awakening is the Rolls Royce of epic strategy games. A thing of beauty, Dominions 3 will be one of the few games from 2006 that will still be on your hard drive in 2007 and beyond.

So go ahead. Give in. One more turn.

For more information on Dominions 3: The Awakening.

‘Galactic Civilization 2: Dread Lords’ Review (PC)

As the 23rd century dawns, mankind is on the verge of a long sought dream, moving out among the stars. The old ways of using interstellar jump gates to end the problems of distance have been replaced by an invention of man, hyperdrive. Equipped with these new engines mankind spreads his wings to the stars, only to discover the galaxy has other races also looking to expand. This is the premise of Galactic Civilization 2 Dread Lords.

RATING: 5star
Our Scoring System

‘Prussia’s Glory’ Review (PC)

One of history’s great captains was Frederick, King of a relatively small European state that was called Prussia. When he first took the throne, nobody would have guessed that Frederick would earn the name of ‘Soldier King’ due to a remarkable series of battles in two major European wars. From 1740 till his death in 1786, Frederick would control Prussia’s destiny purely by force of arms and his own intellect. Players can re-fight some of the key battles of his many campaigns in Prussia’s Glory.
Prussia’s Glory is a turn based tactical game that recreates some of the major battles the Soldier King took part in. Players move and command historical units from the major powers of the period on a hexagon map board. This game is a part of a series called Horse and Musket, and this installment features five of his most significant engagements from both the War of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Year’s War.

Players will square off and re-fight the battles of Soor, Lobositz, Hochkirk, Torgau and Luethen. Although these battles may be obscure and forgotten today, they helped shape European politics during an important period in its history. Frederick’s genius kept Austrian ambitions in check as well as those of France and Imperial Russia. Always heavily outnumbered in war, Frederick led his proud Prussian regiments to victory time and time again.

This game system is heavily reliant on tactical board war gaming and miniatures type rules. Units include infantry regiments, jagers, Musketeers, Grenadiers, Cavalry regiments, commanding officers and even special units such as the Von Kleist Free Korps. Each regiment can be viewed close up, and wear correct period uniforms. A strength of this game system is that it attempts to show not just the look, but the feel of combat in this period. Artillery is also included in the game, as are the effects it has on combat.

Play is turn based and consists of first activating a leader and then moving units in the leader’s command. If the activation fails nothing moves. Units move a certain number of hexes and may engage in combat if the enemy is in a nearby hexagon. Unit facing is critical in this game system as it was to 18th century warfare. Players also have to change unit formations, column for march and then deployed in line for combat. There is bonus damage for combat if you hit an enemy’s flank and rear.

Cavalry can do additional damage if it charges units that are disrupted. Disruption is caused both from movement and combat, and simulates the fact that units that move and fight have stragglers that degrade combat performance. If a unit becomes too severely disrupted it may rout, which means its literally running for its life, and they may retreat off the game board.

Most battles can be played in a relatively short time and go fast. Typically units move to contact fire and one side or the other begins to give way. Destroying every enemy piece is not required to win or lose battles, since the requirement is to meet the historical objective of the battle. The challenge is in recreating the correct tactics that the Soldier King used to great effect throughout his career.

Graphically this game is rather pedestrian compared to the current state of the art. It isn’t really designed to be a flashy game, but it will appeal to its target base - dedicated war gamers. With a large number of variables to movement and combat, as well as an interesting if unusual historical time period, Prussia’s Glory is a nice little game, but its not for everyone. If you enjoy the history of warfare this will certainly appeal to you.

Rating: 3star
Our Scoring System

‘Codename: Panzers Phase Two’ Review (PC)

By: Chris Stavros

The Western Desert of Libya saw some of the most intense combat early in the Second World War. The armies of three major combatants, the Italians, British and Germans fought over trackless sand dunes and empty escarpments with a ferocity rarely seen in modern warfare. Libya, a prewar Italian colony, provided a land route to Egypt and its great strategic prize, the Suez canal. Control of the canal would cut easy British access to its Asian Empire, and add thousands of miles to travel time from there to Britain, making control of Egypt vital, a fact all the powers recognized. The latest release from Stormregion/CDV takes players back to those battlefields, once again great armies will clash in Codename: Panzers Phase Two.

Codename Panzers (CNP for short here on in) is a tactical simulation of Infantry and armored combat in both the desert and in Yugoslavia, circa 1940-43. Players control individual vehicles and squads of Infantry from the two Axis powers, Italy and Germany, and their opponents, Britain in the desert, and the famous Partisans in Yugoslavia.

Based on CNP Phase one, which concentrated on France and Poland, this instalment of the game adds new terrain, tanks, guns and infantry types to that are utilized in a series of scenarios that form three main campaigns that stretch from Italy’s first advance into Egypt, through the unsuccessful German attempt to pacify Yugoslavia.

Players select from two of the three campaigns at start, the third being unlocked after completing the first two campaigns. Cut scenes are used to tell the story of the hero you control through each campaign, that MUST survive, or the campaign is lost. The Italian campaign opens with you playing as Dario De Aegelis, a brave if somewhat deluded follower of Mussolini, and admirer of Germany and its Blitzkrieg tactics, leading an Italian Recon patrol scouting for the British while in Command of an Italian recon platoon. The mission also includes a side story, De Argelis is also searching for the plane of his Brother, an Italian spy who has crucial information for the Italian war effort.

The Personal stories take place within the historical backdrop of the desert war, De Aegelis will experience defeat as Italy did at Fort Capuzo, victory at the Hellfire pass and the other key moments in the campaign. Along the way, he will meet his German friend and ally, Hans von Grobel, a tank expert attacked to the famous Afrika Korps, as well as his missing brother. The British campaign views the battles from the opposing side, with players taking the roles of the English heroes, Jeffery Wilson and James Barnes. The Yugoslavian campaign is seen only from the view of the Partisan heroes Farvan Pondurovic and Aleksander Vladimirov.

Each scenario in the campaign includes a set number of units, those that survived previous scenarios, and you can earn points during a battle to buy new units and upgrades for the future battles. Each unit earns experience during battle, which increases its combat effectiveness, and this is carried over from scenario to scenario. This is especially important for the Italians, as their armor is quite weak and ineffective, added levels will make their tanks quite deadly.

The units include life meters, and have separate bars for the armor level for each four sides. The armor and any damage can be repaired if you have the correct vehicle, or near a command post. Your army also expends ammunition, this also must be replenished. You can find areas to replenish, but its better to purchase an ammo carrier when you can, in addition to repair half track. Your infantry can be healed by combat medics.

Combat is carried out by the familiar click and point method, and different weapons have different range and line of sight variables. Tanks must close to fairly close distances, artillery can fire from far away, and so on. Each unit has its on separate ammo expenditure, and some tanks can carry a lot more ammo then others.

The game is very inclusive of tank design, virtually all the tanks and armored cars seen in the desert war are available in this game. There is also a large assortment of towed artillery, anti-tank guns and anti-aircraft guns. These can be limbered to trucks for fast movement, and each requires at least two men to be used effectively. Players can experiment with different unit combinations and try out all kinds of equipment in battle.

The units themselves are quite detailed, the animations are quite excellent. You can zoom in and look over the tanks and guns, as well as soldiers, and they look quite authentic. Even the correct colors for vehicles and uniforms is used, adding a nice touch of realism to the game.

Learning CNP is quite easy, a full battlefield tutorial is included with the game. Players simply follow along, and learn the basics by hands on usage of the various weapons and infantry used for this tutorial. The tutorial includes both text and voice instruction, and it makes the game concepts easy to grasp.

The voice over acting is decent in the scenarios, it can be rather corny with the Italian hero constantly yelling ‘mama mia’ but it isn’t so bad. The cut scenes are very well done, in the style of a World War Two newsreel, giving the game a nice historical feel.

Overall, I very much enjoyed this game. It isn’t the perfect example of WWII tactical combat, nor is it meant to be. What it is, is, a quick fun game, with some difficult tactical challenges, and an interesting campaign story line. WWII fans should pick this title up by all means.

RATING: 4 out of 5
Our Scoring System

More Codename: Panzers Phase Two screenshots here