All posts by Ryan

Gangstar Miami Vindication Review: The First Great iOS Sandbox Game

I remember waiting for Gameloft to release the first Gangstar episode (Gangstar: West Coast Hustle), but I found the game to be a little ahead of its time on the iOS platform.  This was evidenced by the very short draw distances and the overall lack of a very important factor, fun.  Well, I have good news for those of you that felt the same.  I have had a chance to play through nearly all of Gangstar: Miami Vindication, and I find it to be everything that Gangstar: West Coast Hustle was, but it has improved graphics and is a lot more FUN!

In a lot of ways, Gangstar: Miami Vindication reminds me of the fun I had playing GTA: Vice City.  It has a decent (although stereotypical) storyline, and the missions are varied enough to keep almost any gamer entertained for hours.  To get to the point, Gangstar: Miami Vindication is now one of my top three most played games on my iPhone.


Gameplay: This is the first ‘Like’ I look for in any game.  Is it fun?  Does it keep me engaged?  The answer is a resounding yes to both questions.  Gangstar: Miami Vindication has varied missions (and a lot of them) as well as a fun, lively city.  The first Gangstar seemed a little weak on that front, but this episode of Gangstar makes up for that and then some.

Cars: I have read complaints about the driving controls, but I do not have that problem myself.  There are three schemes total (accelerometer, a wheel, and a bar), and if you can’t find one that works for you, then you should probably practice.  I prefer the wheel driving control, and I really like that Gameloft programmed the cars to remain aligned to the road.  The biggest thing they got right: driving is fun.  I love the physics of driving and find myself taking a motorcycle or race car on a spin just for fun.  You can slide around all over the place with a remarkable amount of precision.

Price: For a game with this depth, I think $6.99 is a steal.  Most $3-$6 games on the app store don’t have nearly as much content.  There are a variety of missions, side-missions, races, and achievements.  If that isn’t enough for you, then you can also roam freely and wreak havoc on the city of Miami.


Glitches: I read one review that claimed Gangstar: Miami Vindication was ‘too big for itself,’ and I see where they were coming from.  There are occasional glitches that pop up throughout the game.  Sometimes the voice-overs may cut out, or text may appear that doesn’t belong, or a texture may randomly change.  While these glitches are not common, they are more prevalent than I would like.  I would like to see Gameloft polish the next rendition a little more.

‘King Factor’: Gangstar (both episodes) still lacks one major element that I look for in a sandbox game: you never really achieve taking over the city.  That is one of the most fun parts of any sandbox game.  As you progress, you own more properties and slowly take over the city.  I don’t feel that Gangstar leaves the player with the same feeling.  If you could collect properties and store cars, the game would be even better than it is.

Gangstar: Miami Vindication is a fantastic sandbox game and is one of my most played iPhone games.  I would recommend it to any fan of sandbox games.  More than that, I would recommend it to any fan of games in general.  One warning; the game does have mature content, so it is not for kids!  This is the first sandbox game that I have rated a ‘Must Have.’  I hope you enjoy it as much as me!

Gangstar: Miami Vindication was developed by Gameloft, and I played through version 1.0.0 on my iPhone 4. The price is $5.99.

Super KO Boxing 2 Review: Boxing Made Fun Again

Glu Mobile has brought some great games to the app store, and Super KO Boxing 2 is no exception.  Super KO Boxing 2 is full of personality, humor, and is just plain fun.  I can say without a doubt that it is the first boxing game I have really enjoyed playing on my iPod.  While other games such as Touch KO, Smack Boxing, Iron Fist Boxing, and Fists of Fury have tried to provide truly fun and unique boxing experience, they have not come close to the uniqueness found in and fun to be had with Super KO Boxing 2.  This is why we reviewed Touch KO as a Buy and Super KO Boxing 2 as a Must Have game!  By the way, I own and have played each of the games listed above, and Super KO Boxing 2 is by far my favorite.  If you are at all inclined to buy a boxing game for your iPhone or iPod Touch, then Super KO Boxing 2 is for you.


Art: Usually I list this like as ‘graphics,’ but with Super KO Boxing 2, it is more art than anything else.  Each of the characters, environments, and effects is so well designed and just…well, artistic that you can’t help but enjoy watching the game.  Super KO Boxing 2 is a good looking game all the way around.  Even the menus are well done!

Controls: I personally like the default controls, but the developers give you options between a few different control schemes.  Each control scheme is intuitive and works very well.  I couldn’t ask for a better control scheme than what is provided.  Even with a case added to my iPod, the hotspots are big enough for my thumbs to hit.  I find many games have hotspots that are just too small.  Not so with Super KO Boxing 2.

Personality: Super KO Boxing 2 is loaded with personality.  Each character is so different and fun that it keeps the game new and fresh all the time.  At times I found myself laughing out loud because a character was such a ridiculous stereotype (for example, 15 cent).  The moves also seem to match each characters style.  In addition, the background music for each fight matches the character perfectly.


Difficulty Balancing: Super KO Boxing 2 starts out ridiculously easy and then becomes something between hard and ridiculously hard.  I beat the first three matches without even knowing how to play.  Then I faced 15 cent who I almost beat the first time.  The first time that I actually got stuck was on the Chief.  It seems to me that the difficulty between the third, fourth, and fifth fights is very unbalanced.  I would like to see some of the harder fights made just a little easier and some of the easier fights made a little harder to make the game feel much more balanced.  Right now I am stuck on the Bigger Gip.  I am sure I can eventually get past him, but he is much more difficult for me to beat than any of the other characters thus far.

More Help Please: I wish there was more included in the help section.  Super KO Boxing 2 fails to tell the player everything.  For example, if you hit the opponents knockout number while they are recovering, it seems that you are more likely to get a knock out.  It tells you that this (hitting the number) helps you recover, but it never mentions it one way or the other for the opponent.  You will see what I mean when you play and have questions of your own.

Super KO Boxing 2 is the best boxing experience you can have on the app store.  The only reason I can find to pick one of the other boxing games over Super KO Boxing 2 is if you are looking for a more realistic game.  If you are looking for a fun and entertaining game, Super KO Boxing 2 is the best.  I especially liked the fact that Super KO Boxing 2 had me laughing as I met some of the characters.  Well done, Glu Mobile, well done!


Super KO Boxing 2 was developed by Glu Mobile, and I played through version 1.0 on my iPod 2G.  The price is $4.99.




Underground Review: A Relaxing Shooter

Chillingo recently released a new kind of side-scrolling shooter called Underground.  We previewed Underground a while back and included a video trailer.  When I first saw the video trailer, I wasn’t that impressed with the game.  However, now that I have had some time to really play Underground, it has become one of my favorite relaxing games on my iPod.  It is hard to explain what makes Underground so enjoyable, but I will do my best.


Soundtrack: The soundtrack is so well done.  Not only does it match the look and feel of the game, but it actually doesn’t make me want to immediately go to my own music.  Most games seem to really overlook the soundtrack, so it is really nice to get a good soundtrack for a change!

Artwork: The artwork throughout Underground is very well done.  It is consistent, fits the gameplay, and is completely unique.  This is just one of those games that fits into the artsy category.  Even the intro screens, loading screens, and transitions look good.  I would even say that this is the one of the best artistic game on my iPod.

Relaxing Feel: I have been growing tired of only having either fast-paced action games or puzzle games on my iPod.  Sometimes I like to play my iPod as I wind down, and I can’t find a good game  to play because I don’t feel like a puzzle or a fast-paced game.  Underground is a great game to fit in between these two other types of games.

The Tilt Controls Work: This is one of the first games that I have actually enjoyed playing using tilt (or accelerometer) controls.  The controls are responsive and have the perfect sensitivity balance.  It fits perfectly with the relaxing feel of Underground.


Upgrades Don’t Last: I wish the upgrades that you pick up throughout the levels lasted a little longer.  As it is right now, the upgrades only last for a few seconds at a time.  I seem to prefer games that keep upgrades longer but make the enemies tougher to kill as you progress.

Underground is a new take on a crowded genre (side-scrolling shooters).  The more I played Underground, the more I enjoyed it (which is a good sign for those of you on the fence).  I think overall Underground is a solid buy.  If you would like to have a game with a great soundtrack, great visuals, and enjoyable gameplay, you don’t need to look any further.


Underground was developed by Chillingo, and I played through version 1.0 on my 2nd Generation iPod Touch.  The price is $3.99.




Modern Combat: Sandstorm Review: The First Great iPhone FPS

This is one of those titles that had me excited for quite a while.  I am a HUGE Call of Duty fan (psn: B33R_3Y35), and being able to play a half-decent FPS on my iPod sounded so cool.  I wasn’t sure how the controls would work in practice, and I didn’t know if the iPod could handle halfway decent AI.  As it turns out, Gameloft hit the nail on the head with Modern Combat: Sandstorm.  It is more than I dared hope for, and I hope any first person shooter fan at least give this game a try.  If you aren’t willing to buy it now, at least try it on a friend’s iPod or iPhone.  If you can’t, then just buy it and thank me later.  That being said, I have thoroughly enjoyed playing this game!


Variety of Weapons: There are a number of weapons to keep you occupied throughout the game.  The weapons are also introduced at a rate that keeps you interested.  You aren’t just handed all of the weapons at once or in the first couple of levels like some other games.  To be specific, Modern Combat: Sandstorm features 2 assault rifles, sniper rifle, RPG, shotgun, submachine gun, light machine gun, heavy machine gun mounted on a moving 4X4, explosive grenades, flashbang grenades, radiation detector.

Enemy AI: One detail that I noticed right off the bat was the fact that enemies don’t just appear out of thin air.  You can actually watch them run into a room or from behind cover.  It is a very nice touch for such a graphically intense game, and I really enjoyed the fluid feel of the action throughout the game.

Overall Feel: Modern Combat: Sandstorm is just plain FUN.  The game feels like a FPS shooter should, and that is a remarkable accomplishment for this platform.  No one else has created a truly enjoyable first person shooter.  In fact, we rated Doom Resurrection as Worth a Look for that very reason.  It just wan’t that fun.  Modern Combat: Sandstorm is an enjoyable experience to say the least.  Well worth the money!

Controls: The controls in Brothers in Arms kept me from really enjoying the game, but Gameloft really nailed the controls in Modern Combat: Sandstorm.  If you can’t find a control scheme that works for you between the three choices, I don’t know what to tell you.  The controls were just fantastic.  I wish you could up the sensitivity a little more, but other than that, they are perfect!


Checkpoints Are Not Saved: For a mobile game, this seems like an oversight.  If you exit the game, you lose your place in that level.  Each level takes between 10 and 20 minutes to finish, so I find it disappointing that I have to be willing to dedicate that much time in order to keep my progress.  I hope this is fixed in an update!

Linear Gameplay: I like that some FPS let you roam freely or choose a course to take.  Modern Combat: Sandstorm is more linear and usually tells you where to go next.  The firefights are not as linear, but I would like to be able to sneak around more and find different ways of completing a level.  That would add to the replayability for me.

I found Modern Combat: Sandstorm to be the first solid FPS for the iPhone/iPod Touch.  It is well worth the money invested, and I think it is impressive graphically.  The storyline may be pretty basic, but it keeps you entertained throughout the game.  If you love shooting virtual soldiers/terrorists, then this should be an instant buy for you.  This joins our exclusive must have rank along with a few other great titles.


Modern Combat: Sandstorm was developed by Gameloft, and I played through version 1.o on my 2nd Generations iPod.  The price is $6.99.




Modern Combat: Sandstorm Arrives by Surprise!

Modern Combat: Sandstorm hit the app store recently by surprise.  We were expecting a delay based on a twitter feed from Gameloft, but it appears that the wait is over!  We are very excited to play through this new title by Gameloft and will have a full review up shortly.  For those that don’t know, Modern Combat: Sandstorm is a First-Person Shooter that resembles Call of Duty (but on a mobile device).  We expect great things from this title, and highly recommend that you come back to read the review!

Here is a brief description for you in the meantime: Modern Combat: Sandstorm, Gameloft’s new action-thriller will plunge you into the heart of modern war. Assigned to Mission Sandstorm, your duty is to locate and annihilate a new terrorist cell setting up shop and recruiting foreign insurgents in a remote desert hot spot. This jarring first person shooter will equip you with the most sophisticated and powerful modern day weapons.

There are ten missions that are included in the game as well as 2 assault rifles, sniper rifle, RPG, shotgun, submachine gun, light machine gun, heavy machine gun mounted on a moving 4X4, explosive grenades, flashbang grenades, radiation detector.  In addition to all of that, there is also a leveling system.  Needless to say, a lot of content is included in this game!

Modern Combat: Sandstorm was developed by Gameloft and is currently avaliable for $6.99.  For the quality and polish we have come to expect from Gameloft, that is a great price!