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Preview: Stormworks: Build and Rescue (PC)By Sandy Wilson At 14.04.2018 22:21

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When booting up Stormworks, players are greeted with a nice simple menu interface and the game auto-detects what it considers the best settings are for the PC it's running on, but most computers will not have trouble running this at max settings. This is due to the simple art style and design choices. There is a healthy selection of graphics options for those who like to fiddle for the best performance or visuals.

Career revolves around building vehicles and using them to complete missions. These missions are mostly deliveries but can be different from time to time, with different terrains to tackle. This career takes place on a huge procedurally-generated map that is somewhat bland but successfully creates the feeling of a vast sea with lots of little islands dotted around. Goal-wise, the aim is to build a fleet of rescue and delivery vehicles to solve any missions; and to do this, the player must make money for parts by doing small jobs for island residents. These small jobs can be interesting, like saving someone, or they can be boring and repetitive, like delivering boxes of supplies, or even boxes that occasionally glitch out and break the game. It's a good enough structure for essentially a sandbox title and has a good tutorial to boot, meaning it's hard to get lost at the start.

As Build and Rescue opens up, an incredibly deep vehicle customisation system becomes even deeper and more complex. Taking cues from the likes of From the Depths, it lets players have free range not just on the vehicles' looks but also on the structure of the mechanics. It's super fun to try and create good engines and link up all the different buttons, but it can become quite difficult to build more complex designs and get everything working right. Building a helicopter and forgetting to wire up the steering, for instance, can be quite hazardousā€¦

The world comes to life when the weather system kicks in. The dynamic storms and winds that actually affect vehicles and objects create a sense of realism not seen in many releases, although the visuals can take away from the realism. As the wind increases, the water gets rougher, making it harder to hold onto cargo and keep the boat from turning over. It can be very harrowing in thick fog when rocks just pop up out of nowhere and ruin the fun.

Visuals are where the game is less interesting, built in a low poly style with the characters and vehicles being extremely blocky and animations very stiff. The looks can be endearing at times, like with the player house at the start, with its ship in a bottle. The characters also look interesting, with a fair amount of choice when making your avatar. However, overall, the appearance is just mediocre rather than charming or flashy. The atmosphere can also be ruined when sometimes the physics glitch, sending vehicles spiralling, or when the helicopter can be righted from upside down and simply flown away. The music also needs a few more tracks as the one theme currently implemented is fine but is repetitive after a few minutes of play.

There is also a multiplayer mode allowing friends to work together as a team to complete missions. It's good, if a little quiet during this beta phase, with a simple premise, and if it can get enough interest it will make for a very fun mode and possibly elevate the game well above its competitors.

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