Outpost Kaloki X Xbox 360 (Xbox Live Arcade)
Developed by NinjaBee
Gamerscore points offered: 200
Outpost Kaloki X, an introduction.
One of the really nice features about the Xbox 360 is the Xbox Live Arcade. Assuming you've connected your Xbox 360 to an Internet connection, you'll be able to download demos of Xbox Live Arcade games for free and give them a whirl. Whilst these games can be played offline they do have online scoreboards and in some cases you can play co-operatively with your friends over Xbox Live. Assuming you want to purchase the game (payable with Xbox Live points which have to be purchased beforehand) it only takes a few seconds to unlock your demo into the full, unlimited version. Currently there are a nice collection of games on the Xbox Live Arcade and I have to admit enjoying the delights of Zuma, Bejewelled and Gauntlet to name but a few. Outpost Kaloki X is the first strategy game to be available on the Xbox Live Arcade and, all things considered, it's a very engaging title.
What's the game about?
Operation Kaloki X puts you in charge of an interstellar space station. These space stations have a series of nodes (or expansion ports as the game calls them) and the idea is to place various structures on them that will help make you a profit and also satisfy the local demand for whatever is needed. You can build science, trade, information, power, social, nature and maintenance facilities on each of these expansion ports. The trick is that you only have a fixed number of expansion ports to build on so making the correct choices of what to build is essential. When you add the fact that many buildings require you to have built other buildings first in order for them to be available to build, you can see it's a game that provides a stiff challenge. The game offers 2 campaigns in the forms of an Adventure Story and a War Story. There are also 11 scenarios for you to undertake (most are sandbox scenarios and don't have the time restrictions of the campaign missions). At the time of writing an additional scenario called Fireworks has also been made available for a free download. It also looks like more campaigns (or stories as they are called) will be available at a later date.
What's good about the game?
Although the game has a comical look to it and is very approachable, it does require you to plan ahead and think about what you're doing. The Adventure Story breaks you in nice and slowly allowing you to pick up the basics as you go so there's no need for a lengthy tutorial. The difficulty progression in the Adventure Story mode is steady (you won't have to maintain your facilities in early missions for example) and this helps to progress nicely from the easier missions to the more challenging ones. Like all good strategy games, Outpost Kaloki X is easy to get into but difficult to master. The basic idea of course is to have a profitable space station but you also have to watch the levels of power consumption too. Of course in the two campaigns you'll have set objectives which must be completed within a set amount of time. As the difficulty of the missions increase you'll find it all becomes a balancing act of having the right facilities and setting them up correctly. Yes, you can even tinker with your facilities. The power generator for instance can be pushed to produce more power but this comes at the risk of making them unsafe. Stores and service providing facilities can provide more appealing goods and services but this comes at a cost. Research facilities can have their primary research focus changed but again more advantageous research topics come at a price. As well as running your space station you'll also have to take time out to talk to some of your customers. Some of them will provide you with plans for more useful facilities, so it's worth taking the time to converse with them.
You might think the controls for a strategy game on the Xbox 360 would be awkward. In actual fact they are very straightforward. The left analogue moves you from expansion port to expansion port whilst the A button will open up the build menus when pressed. The right analogue stick controls the camera whilst the right and left triggers zoom in and out. The LB and RB buttons control the game speed and there are five game speeds in total. The Y button will shift the focus to the visitor list where you can select a customer to talk with. The X button will shift the focus to the control menus whilst the B button returns your focus to the space station expansion ports. In short it's a great control system that requires minimal effort to learn.
What's not so good about the game?
What can get a little annoying is that at the beginning of a campaign scenario (and indeed a standalone scenario), you won't have access to higher level buildings and services. This means that you'll have to build the lower level facilities and satisfy the conditions in order to be able to build the better facilities. This isn't a problem in itself after all it's typical strategy game stuff. What is a problem is that you only have a fixed number of expansion ports to build on and you can't upgrade a building. Instead you'll have to destroy your lower level buildings to make way for the better ones. This kind of feels like a two steps forward one step back situation and personally I feel the option to simply upgrade an existing facility would have been a better move. It would also be nice if the game paused when you checked your objectives/goals. As it stands the game simply continues to progress. This isn't a problem of sorts and it's more of a niggle than anything else.
How does it look?
The Xbox Live Arcade games all take advantage of HD displays. They also look fine on standard TV's too but you'll notice the graphics are sharper and more clearly defined when playing in HD (the game supports 720p). The presentation of the game is great and I really like the way you can alter the interface graphics from very small to very large. The graphics aren't wonderfully detailed but they have a rather unique style that has a charming quality to it. Essentially then the game looks good whether you play it on a standard TV set or a HDTV.
How deaf gamer friendly is the game?
Deaf gamers won't have any problems with Outpost Kaloki X. Whilst there is speech in the game, it's of the garbled variety and text is shown to indicate what these alien creatures are saying. As a result of this you'll be aware of all that's being said in the game. Tutorial messages are delivered in text. Objectives are shown in text and can be accessed at any time by pressing the back button on your controller. Warnings such as the two minute warning, that's shown when you're two minutes from the end of your time limit, are shown in text too. Comments made by visitors to your space station are also shown in text. In fact there's nothing to complain about in terms of how deaf gamer friendly the game is.
I daresay most gamers who purchase an Xbox 360 will just concentrate on the retail games you can purchase. Whilst this is understandable, it's also a big mistake because the Xbox Live Arcade provides some great games at an affordable price. Each game allows you to download a free demo so you'll know before hand if you like the game. If you like tycoon style strategy games you should definitely give the Outpost Kaloki X demo a whirl. If you do, you're almost certain to hand over your Xbox Live Arcade points in exchange for the full product. The humorous style of the game might attract your attention but it's the game's depth and replay value that will keep you coming back for more. Needless to say we're interested to see more from NinjaBee.
Overall Game Rating: 8.3/10
Deaf Gamers Classification:
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Outpost Kaloki X is a very enjoyable strategy game that welcomes gamers with it's light-hearted appearance and keeps them playing with its addictive mix of strategy and fun. The game is completely deaf gamer friendly.