Category Archives: Reviews

Shadowgun Review: Looks Pretty, Plays Pretty Ugly

Shadowgun.  It marks the arrival of an entirely new Unity engine that provides never before seen graphics on a mobile device.  And Shadowgun does a great job of demonstrating the new Unity engine, but that’s just about it.

Featuring a couple of guns, uninspiring, scripted enemy soldiers, and a repeatedly tap-to-kill type of gameplay, Shadowgun doesn’t give me anything to really praise other than the graphics.  Yeah, the gameplay is a bit more advanced compared to the likes of Rage, but the gameplay is still lacking a lot, especially compared to games such as Modern Combat 2 and NOVA.

It looks absolutely fantastic, but I don’t give a damn about looks when it’s boring.

Likes

Graphics: Like I mentioned before, the graphics are absolutely fantastic.  I will give credit where credit is due, and I must give props to the developers for some great graphics.  The shading, lighting, detail, and character models are unprecedented, and I think I can safely say that these are the best graphics I have seen on my iPhone.  

Universal: I’ve noticed that more and more developers are going with universal apps, and I cannot be more than happy with their decision.  And it’s good to see Madfinger Games joining that group of developers because I just love universal apps.  For any developers reading, be sure to take note.

Dislikes

Repetitive: If there’s one problem that I would point out with this game (which there aren’t), I would have to say that it’s its repetitiveness.  You’re doing the same thing in each level: shoot the enemies, reach the boss, rinse, and repeat.  There isn’t much variety, you gain new weapons much to slowly, and it isn’t all that difficult.  While it’s cool for the first five minutes, it tends to get boring really quickly.

Artificial Intelligence: The AI for Shadowgun is pitiful to say the least.  They’re all scripted to run behind certain barriers, and they don’t do a very convincing job of acting like they want to kill you.  On the normal difficulty, I seldom found them actually shooting; most of the time, they would be hiding behind pillars and barriers waiting for me to kill them.  The AI is unintelligent, for lack of a better word, and if you’re looking for a shooter similar to Modern Combat or even Brothers in Arms, you won’t find it here.

Shadowgun is a bit more than a tech demo, but it’s a lot less than an actual game.  You basically do the same thing for every level, with little variety or creation in the objectives, and I was bored after 15 minutes of play.  Like I said before, it looks absolutely fantastic.  But, looks aren’t everything in the App Store.

Shadowgun was developed by Madfinger Games, and I played through version 1.0.4 on my iPhone 4 and iPad 2.  The price is $4.99.

9mm Review: Violent, Vulgar, and Volatile

The App Store isn’t a stranger to the likes of “gangster” games; Gameloft has released their own in Gangstar and Gangstar 2, and Rockstar has also released Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars on the iPhone and iPad.

And in the vein of these gangster-like games comes an all new title from Gameloft dubbed 9mm, a game in which you play bad cop, defeating all the gangsters and criminals in your way to ultimately save you and your team from death.

Looking at 9mm from a graphical standpoint, I would have to say that it’s quite impressive, although I’ve come to expect these types of graphics when reviewing Gameloft games.  One marked improvement above the rest, though, lies in the voice acting.  Now don’t get me wrong, the voice acting still needs a little bit of work, but it’s a very large improvement from the past, and the characters actually sound like they would in real life.

Of course, being a universal app always helps along with the inclusion of online multiplayer.  And the story isn’t too shabby either.

But be warned: this is one of the most vulgar games I’ve played on the App Store.  This is definitely not a game that should be bought for your 10-year old son’s birthday, and I’m not even sure I should be playing this game at times.  I’m not too bothered by vulgar language and such, but when there are unnecessary doses of four-lettered words, it does seem to get a little bit of an annoyance.

Still, 9mm packs some great graphics, an interesting storyline, and quite an interesting online multiplayer mode.

Likes

Voice-acting: I love when game developers approve on their next games, and while Gameloft took quite a while to shore up their voice-acting, they seem to be headed in the right direction with 9mm.  I wouldn’t say that the voice acting is spotless, but it’s enough to sit there normally without cringing at the sound of out-of-place tones and such.

Online multiplayer/universal: I think both of these points really speak for themselves; the inclusion of online multiplayer and being a universal app has been quite a staple in Gameloft’s recent games, and I just have to commend them for that.  Their Gameloft Live servers seem to have improved tremendously, overcoming it’s infancy and becoming one of the smoothest online multiplayer experiences on the iOS.  As for being a universal app, you can’t really say much about it other than the fact that you love it.  No more buying a game twice — one for your iPhone and one for your iPad — it’s now packed into one, convenient download, along with being, technically, half the price.  All in all, both the online multiplayer and universal are a winning combination for the consumer.

Action-packed: If there’s one thing that 9mm provides, it’s action.  The shooting scenes are quite exhilarating, the weapon selection is extensive, and the action itself seems to never end (which in this case is a good thing).  While I wouldn’t call it the most action-packed game in the App Store, I would have to say that 9mm is up there.  So if you’re looking for thrills and chills, 9mm is really the way to go.

Dislikes

Vulgarity: Like I mentioned before, vulgar language doesn’t really bother me too much.  But when it’s every other word, it really becomes unnecessary to use so much colorful language in such a short sentence.  This is totally subjective here; if you can compromise and deal with it that’s fine with me.  It’s just a warning to all purchasing that there’s a lot of language in here that may just not be suitable for everyone out there.

Short campaign: The campaign isn’t too long, lasting a mere 3-4 hours.  There is online multiplayer to add some more playing time to the game overall, but the campaign is a bit short.

9mm includes some improved voice-acting, great online multiplayer, an interesting storyline, and an overall action-packed adventure that is sure to entice third-person shooter fans.  Just note that the game isn’t for everyone, and I personally thought the amount of language in this game was really unnecessary.

9mm was developed by Gameloft, and I played through version 1.0 on my iPad 2.  The price is $6.99.

Sid Meier’s Pirates for iPad Review: Ahoy Landlubbers, Ye be in for an Adventure

All the stereotypes associated with pirates—treasure, plunder, and swordfighting—are what makes the entire world of Sid Meier’s Pirates.

You start out with a small yet quick ship, ideal for plundering the larger ships if you know what you’re doing.  The game doesn’t seem to start out with any tutorial (although there is one accessible from the menu), so you’re pretty much on your own, learning all the nuances of being a pirate as you adventure out into the different colonies.

As for the point of the game, there really isn’t any.  But that’s not a bad thing; no, far from it.  The possibilities are nearly endless in a game such as this, allowing you to explore all around the colonies, plundering as many ships as possible, hiring tons of crew members, defeating other pirates; like I said, the possibilities are nearly endless.

You can also create a type of allegiance to the countries present — either England, France, Holland, or Spain — by fighting their enemies.  So for example, if you capture different Spanish ships, you’ll most likely be given a higher position (captain, major, colonel, etc.) by the French and the English, considering the fact that those two countries weren’t huge fans of the Spanish during that time.

All in all, it’s quite an exhilarating game that has very few flaws, if any, that I can see.

Likes

Adventure is out there: This game really brings out the adventurous, little child out in all of us, allowing us to pillage, burn, earn money, dance, etc.  There’s just so much to do in Sid Meier’s Pirates that you really can just do whatever you want.  It’s hard to really describe in mere words and letters, but Sid Meier’s Pirates is probably the most adventurous game on the App Store thus far.

Variety: Like I said, there’s just so much to do in this game, it’s ridiculous.  You can go from sword-fighting the captain of another ship to ball dancing with a governor’s daughter.  You can also hire more pirates, fence fencing masters, trade with the merchants… again, the possibilities are endless.

Difficulty: The difficulty level at Journeyman, for me personally, is absolutely perfect.  I haven’t tried out any other ones for fear of losing progress, but for beginners, the Journeyman difficulty is just perfect.

Dislikes

Some sounds: Some of the sound effects in the game get pretty irritating, such as the sound the game makes when tracking a Top 10 pirate.  The 10-or-so second sound loop when fighting another ship also gets a bit redundant.  Not major issues, but there are some sound effects in here that do become a bit tiring after a while.

Beginning: You have to be a little resilient in the beginning of the game given the fact that you know absolutely nothing.  You don’t know what the objective of the game is, you don’t know how to earn money, and you don’t really know how to play the game.  The tutorial does a mediocre job of teaching you how to play, and you really just have to learn through trial and error.  Not the ideal way to learn how to play a game, but after a while, you should be in full swing.

Crashes: Thankfully there is autosave included, but the game does crash every once in a while.  Buyer beware.

Sid Meier’s Pirates is absolutely stunning.  This stands as one of my all-time favorite games for the iPad, considering the fact that there’s so much to do and so little time.  Just do yourself a favor and purchase it now; I doubt that there will be any regrets for such a fantastic game.

Sid Meier’s Pirates was developed by 2K Games, and I played through version 1.0.4 on my iPad 2.  The price is $3.99.

 

Swords And Soldiers Review: Vikings, Aztecs, and Chinese; What More Could you Ask For?

Two Tribes’s all new castle defense game Swords and Soldiers comes into the App Store after being mysteriously shrouded in secrecy; from what I can remember, most of the pre-release information were teasers.

But after playing around with the final release, I can’t say I’m not happy.

With some great, cartoon artwork and an addictive gameplay, Swords and Soldiers should keep you busy for quite a while.

But one aspect of the game really keeps me from giving this a perfect score, and that’s the gameplay balancing.  While the beginning of the game is more or less pretty easy, as the levels progress, the difficulty becomes way too much for gamers such as myself to handle.

It has led to a sense of frustration at times, and if I didn’t want to review the game, I would have quit playing a long time ago.

The gameplay is great for a while, but when it gets difficult, it’s hard to stay happy.

Likes

Artwork: The cartoony artwork is very well done, and I have to commend Two Tribes’s artist(s) for this artistic marvel.  I am in love with the artwork, and again, props to the artists.

Attitude/Atmosphere: The whole atmosphere of Swords and Soldiers is somewhat ridiculous — in a good way — along with being just plain silly.  There’s enough serious in here though, so you won’t exactly be laughing your head off.  Still, it’s silly enough so that you’ll actually feel a lot more laid back playing this rather than a lot of other games out there.

Dislikes

Gameplay balancing: I somewhat ranted about this in the beginning, and this is really my only dislike for the game.  Everything else is great; this part of the game, though, really cripples a lot of the game experience.  It looks great, plays great for the first few levels, and it feels just so enlightening.  But once those difficult levels set in, there’s really nothing but frustration awaiting. 

Swords and Soldiers could just be the next best castle defense game on the App Store.  But the gameplay balancing really needs some tweaking as does some of the difficulty; with those fixed, I would be more than happy to slap a Must Have rating on Swords and Soldiers.  But still, it’s a solid game for those looking for something new to play.

Swords and Soldiers was developed by Two Tribes and published by Chillingo, and I played through version 1.0 on my iPhone 4.  The price is $2.99.

Scribble Show Review: Interesting Concept Wasted by Lack of Content

The iPhone’s touchscreen is so unique in that it’s capable of doing so many things, especially when it comes to games.

And Phenom Studio’s Scribble Show aims to do just that by creating quite a unique experience on the iPhone, albeit nothing new in terms of the whole drawing concept.

In the one game mode that’s involved, you have to draw the falling shapes as fast as possible and not let them hit the ground.  There are many power ups including Blow Up, Freeze, and Slow Down, along with some others that will aid in helping you get to the highest level possible.

Of course, more and more drawings and more and more complex drawings appear as the levels go on, and once enough of the drawings have fallen, it’s game over.  The game is equipped with GameCenter leaderboards, and the gameplay itself is a lot of fun.  But it could have been so much more; for now, it’s something that’s intriguing but may not be enough to keep one busy for long.

Likes

Drawing: The drawing recognition in this game is pretty accurate, and it allows you to draw complex figures with ease.  It allows enough margin for error for you to not become too frustrated with the game, and the developers definitely got the most important piece of the game right.

Balance: The balance of the game is good enough so that you learn through the first few levels of the game, then start to use those talents and ultimately fight for the highest score.  The game balance isn’t perfect by any means, but it should allow first-time players to ease into the gameplay without feeling too pressured in the beginning.

Dislikes

Only one game mode: The fact that the game only carries one game mode seriously limits the game’s replay value, as you can only play one game mode of this sort for so long.

GameCenter achievements: The decision to add GameCenter leaderboards but not achievements is always mind-boggling to me; take a few minutes, create some achievements, and voila: your app is that much more tempting to buy.  Put the work in, add some achievements, and everyone will be happy.

Scribble Show is extremely limited in terms of replay value and gameplay, but the interesting drawing concept of the game is enough for me to not totally write this off as horrible.  It has a lot of potential, and I’ve had a lot of fun with the given mode.  It just needs a little bit more to compete with the likes of Rovio Mobile’s Angry Birds, or even smaller game studios such as Andreas Illiger’s Tiny Wings.

Scribble Show was developed by Phenom Studios, and I played through version 1.1 on my iPhone 4.  The price is $0.99.