Tag Archives: Simulation

Haven Reviews: Pro Cycling Manager 2016

Racing is fun, we as a species loves to compete and loathe to lose. Yet very few of us have the time or the physique to actually be pro athlete.20160621153334_1Which is why we watch these events on the big screen, putting money and stock on the participants we want to win this darn thing. Be it  Le Tour De France or a more localized race, it all boils down to our will to win. Therefore there will always be a market for a good simulator game, such as the Pro Cycling manager series. Naturally I am a bit biased since I find that watching competitive sports bores me to tears.  It is one of the reasons I play games. I’m the kind of guy that likes to participate and if I cant do that, I’ll just find something else to do.

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Pro cycling manager caters to the cyclist crowd and the people who want to be in charge and to experience the thrill of watching a race whenever they feel like it. Though most of the time I spent watching spread sheets and clicking on menus and reading mail. Basically I had to mange a lot of things, such as the schedule, races, training, researching gear and much more.

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Once that is done I just hit continue and watch the days fly by. Until the calendar reach a day there is an even or a race. The pop-up windows during the transition is poorly implemented and blinks into existence in a way that really is annoying on the eyes.. Once I got to one of these bloody races, I could watch it unfold as an information sheet, or in real time 3d on the ground.

In this mode I can manipulate camera angles and hand out orders such as attack. A simple way of saying get ahead of the crowd. This mode has some serious issues and mildly amusing bugs. First and foremost the loading time is atrocious and my rig is fairly decent. I also had a case of the crowd spawning across the road. Not that this impacts game play at all, even if it’s most amusing. Every now and the commentator will chime in when a noticeable event occurs. After all accidents do happen and sometimes the cyclist will kiss the tarmac. Fortunately the commentator is not annoying or imposing which is a good thing. As for the sound effects and quality its quite decent indeed, especially the music. Then again there are only so many different noises a man on a bike can make. Unless he swears like a sailor due to an accident. Aside from the career mode where I had to manage a whole team until I ran the company to the ground or got tired of playing. Also feel free to add mods or custom races and events, there is a lot of extras and DLC out there. It is also compatible with steam workshop.

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There is a solo career as well, where I made a mostly custom cyclist that wants to make it into the pro circuits. Aside from the focus on one specific bicycler it is still a management game, with a crap ton of data spreadsheets. The multiplayer function is fairly decent and brings the ability to be social and competitive at the same time. A perfect time sink for an enthusiast. Personally I will not recommend this to anyone other than those that likes to play games and watch pro cycling in action. However Pro Cycling manager a fairly decent made game with some issues. However I have yet to encounter anything game breaking or game crashing. So all in all its a good management simulator.

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Lastly is our disclaimer. We received this game for review purposes only, and as such all opinions in this review are our own. No money has been exchanged for this review.

Njål H Sand

Haven Review: Plantera

PlanteraTitleFirst up is our disclaimer. We received this game for review purposes only, and as such all opinions in this review are our own. No money has been exchanged for this review.

“Clicker/Idler” games have made a huge insurgence, especially on mobile devices. Interestingly enough, the game we’re about to review, while seemingly perfect on mobile, is currently just for the PC. It’s called Plantera; developed and published by VaragtP.

My initial intent was to play the game long enough to learn the rules, create a few strategies and collect a number of screen shots for this review. That didn’t happen. I instead lost track of time, completely mesmerized by what I was doing. The game is essentially a personal farming simulator, where you plant crops to earn money. The money is used to plant more crops to earn more money…rinse repeat. If that were all, Plantera would still be a fun diversion. The characters you meet are extremely cute and cuddly; even the adversaries. But there’s more to the story here; namely Steam achievements. There are currently 28 such achievements, and they are not easy to get. While the game itself is not difficult to play, it takes a LOT of time to rack up kudos. Fortunately you can walk away from the computer (once you get your little farm established) and let the game play by itself!

Consider the following screen shot:
FullHere we have a fairly built up farm. The star in the bottom-left corner indicates that I reached Level 7, which took about 15 minutes. One of the aforementioned achievements is awarded for reaching Level 100, so you can see what kind of time we’re talking about.

You start the game with a single blue farm worker and some errant butterflies floating above. When a glowing aura appears around a butterfly, you can click it for coins. After you’ve collected a few coins, open your inventory to see what crops you can afford to plant. Carrot seeds are the cheapest (6 coins), and each carrot harvested is worth 1 coin in return. Turnips cost 3 times as much as carrots to plant, but return 2 coins each when harvested. In the long run turnips are the better value, and this concept continues as you unlock more crops. You can trash unneeded crops at any time, so replace them with better ones when you have the cash.
CropsAs your fledgling farm grows, new items become available. Berry bushes and fruit trees are among the earliest; each offering decent returns. Remember though that your workers aren’t tall enough to reach high fruit, so you’ll have to click them (or wait for them to fall from the branches) to get paid.

Before long, livestock becomes available. Chickens for example lay valuable eggs, while pigs dig up renowned truffles. When you’ve collected sufficient coins, special items show up for purchase. Some of these will increase your farm’s productivity while others will ward off adversaries who are bent on destroying your farm. Who are these denizens? Let’s take a look:
BaddiesFirst on the enemy list is the mole. He pops up to temporarily prevent your crop beds from producing food. Click the mole to make him retreat underground. Next there’s the magpie, who attempts to swoop in and steal your ripe crops. Again, click on the denizen to make it fly away. Alternately, for 250 coins you can place a scarecrow to ward off magpies for you. Be aware that only birds coming in close to the scarecrow’s position will be frightened away. You may want to invest in multiple scarecrows, especially when you expand the width of your farm later on. My favorite foe by far is the fox. He waddles in to collect your chickens. You’ll have to triple-click the fox to send him packing. Optionally, for 1000 coins you can buy a guard dog to patrol your farm. He’ll scare away foxes and moles.
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So as you can see, there’s a lot going on in this user-friendly, single button game. Plantera is definitely a great value on Steam at $3 (USD). The only thing I’d recommend before playing is to plug in one of your old generic mice. You’ll be clicking more in this game than in your other apps combined; not something you want on that 12K DPI device!

PlanteraScale-Chris Roberts-

Haven Review: Eastside Hockey Manager

EHMFirst up is our disclaimer. We received this game for review purposes only, and as such all opinions in this review are our own. No money has been exchanged for this review.

Being from Los Angeles, I grew up watching some of the NHL’s greats. My family would drive down to the The Great Western Forum (long before Staples Center) and watch the Kings play. While not a great playoff team, we had some amazing players. There was team captain extraordinaire Marcel Dionne, legendary goalie Rogie Vachon and one of the longest career players in history…Dave Taylor. The team wore gold and purple, just like the Lakers; and after the latter began dominating in their own league, the Kings promptly changed their colors to black and silver, just like the Raiders! But L.A. wouldn’t really become a hockey town until “the trade of the century”, when the greatest player of them all came over and took us to the Stanley Cup Final. We didn’t win the cup, but L.A. had it’s taste. Finally, in 2012 and again in 2014 the L.A. Kings became Stanley Cup Champions. We should also remember that our close neighbor, the Anaheim Ducks, had already won their own Stanley Cup a few years earlier.

EHM2So at this point you may think I’m some sort of hockey expert, or at least an enthusiast. Alas, no. I’m just a fair-weather fan, rooting for my home team as I do with most other sports leagues. This brings us to the matter at hand: a review for a video game; Eastside Hockey Manager (EHM).

The EHM series has been around for a long time, and today we’re looking at its 2015 edition. The game is developed by Sports Interactive and published by SEGA. If you’re looking for a high-speed, ice-in-your-face, board-slamming fight-fest look elsewhere; that’s not what this is. In fact, the only hockey action you’ll see here is a 2-D, top-down view of a small ice rink, with little circles representing players and a tiny dot for the puck. In fact, you can even turn this feature off and simply be presented with the results of the match.

Leagues1So what’s the draw here? The draw is that you play in the role of manager, guiding teams, leagues and even entire nations to victory. Want to manage the Kings? Go for it. Or how about Sweden? Fine. Pick a team, start a roster, train, trade and sign your way to a championship! There’s only one catch: you really need to know your players! In EHM‘s early access release, the game’s players were all fictional. In the final game however, you have access to real people (time to start collecting those hockey trading cards!)

If you’re unfamiliar with the sport you’ll likely be overwhelmed by the logistics of the game. Each hockey player has dozens of stats and proclivities. Every trait from skating speed to puck passing to body checking (and dozens more) has a numerical rating. Additionally, each trait is colored green, orange or red. Green represents a solid, competitive skill. Orange denotes a trait that could use improvement. Red represents a skill in which a player is particularly weak. These traits will rise and fall throughout a player’s career, so watch them closely.

GreenOrangeRedA primary function of any good manager is roster manipulation. Keep an eye on the salary cap and what kind of money players are earning on other teams. Negotiate and make offers for players you want, while shrewdly trading away ones you’d best do without! The lack of any real-time arcade action means that there’s more room in the game for the day-to-day complexities of actual sports management.
ScheduleAs for multiplayer, up to 30 managers can compete against each other in a single online season! That’s right, test your management abilities against your friends’ and see how far you can take your team. Want to add a little flair? It’s easy with the Steam Workshop. Players can create and add their own content to EHM, including team logos and player photos. So if you’ve ever thought about being a sports manager, you may just learn a thing or two from EHM.

IceRinkOh, and before you dismiss the 2-D, top-down ice rink, consider this: the camera angle remains stationary and player jersey numbers accompany the little circles as they flit around the screen. Do you see where I’m going with this? Indeed…you can practice your hockey sportscasting skills…something you can’t readily do in an arcade game!

So overall, is Eastside Hockey Manager worth the investment? If you’re interested in the stats of the NHL, minor leagues or the world hockey scene, then the answer is yes. The game is reasonably priced and offers virtually endless replay value. If, on the other hand you prefer grabbing that console controller and hitting the ice with skates afire, you’ll probably want a different hockey simulator. In any case, the 2015 edition of EHM is a tremendous title and deserves a look.

We’ll see you all up in the booth…and “GO, KINGS GO!”

EHMScale-Chris Roberts-