Tag Archives: Avoid

Homerun Battle 2 Review: A Pathetic Excuse for a Sequel

Com2us has been one of my favorite developers in the App Store, especially with how they’re very interactive in the community along with coming out with great games.  Chronicles of Inotia 2 was one of my favorite games, and others such as Homerun Battle 3D, the first of the series, was a lot of fun to play.

So when they released Homerun Battle 2, I was quite excited, given my previous enjoyment with Homerun Battle 3D.  But when I opened up the “sequel,” I felt almost cheated, ripped off in a way.  And do you want to know why?  It’s the EXACT SAME GAME.  There’s nothing in here, from what I remember, that’s different.  It’s still the same online play and the same offline play; the user interface is a little different, and there’s a new mode on the offline play, but other than that, the elements are the same.

What’s even worse is that now they’re starting to make you buy outfits and such through in-app purchase.  There are so many bats, gloves, hats, etc. that are accessible only through in-app purchase that it almost makes me feel like the game is won by anyone who has the most money.  From what I’ve seen, there’s no way to earn stars except through buying them, and the outfits that they do have for gold balls are outrageously priced.

All in all, this is one pathetic excuse for a sequel.


UI Improvements: I’ll have to hand it to Com2us: the user interface improvements do look nice.  While it is a bit slight, it looks a lot better.

Universal and GameCenter: This was something that was missing in the first one, and I’m a huge fan of any developer who is willing to make an app universal along with adding some GameCenter achievements.  No matter how much I hate this game (which I’ll get to soon), I have to put this in the like section.


Advertisements: It’s great that you’re having a fire sale and all, but you don’t have to have the news banners take up nearly a quarter of my screen.  While I was provided a promo code to review this game, if I was a user and paid five bucks for it, I’d be furious.  There are a lot of games that have that little news banner, but it only shows up when you press on it, and it doesn’t take up a large portion of the screen.  It’s just an annoyance that shouldn’t be in a $4.99 game.

SAME EXACT THING: This is the part that makes me nearly furious.  You can’t call a game a sequel when there’s literally nothing that has changed.  There’s one new game mode in the offline play, but other than that, the online play is nearly exactly the same, the outfits and such are the same, and even some of the UI elements are exactly the same.  You’re basically paying $4.99 for GameCenter achievements and new main menu buttons, which is inexcusable given the fact that other sequels, such as Zombieville 2, provide complete UI overhauls, gameplay changes, and stylistic changes.  To see that Com2us named this “Homerun Battle 2” and have it be nothing close to even being a sequel makes me quite mad, and they’re basically ripping off people by selling the same game but marketing it as a sequel so that more people buy it.

I’m sorry Com2us, but this is the type of thing that is the difference between good developers and bad developers.  When you’re cheating buyers by saying that it’s a sequel when it’s actually just the same game, I take offense to that.

In-app purchases: In-app purchases… in a $4.99 game?  Now I understand when those in-app purchases don’t really matter to the game, such as Modern Combat 3, which has in-app purchases but doesn’t force you to purchase them in anyway.  But Com2us has implemented a sort of freemium model to an already premium-priced game by putting in “stars,” which can only be earned through buying them with real-world money.  I shouldn’t have to pay in order to completely unlock all of the accesses to the game.  Along with that, online play should be fair in that all players have the same chance to win: it shouldn’t be predicated on who has the most money to spend on in-app purchases.  Basically, whoever is willing to spend a lot of money on this game is going to be the best, and whoever doesn’t have money to spend is left out and will always be milling around the lower level players.

Homerun Battle 2, as you can see, makes me quite furious.  And disappointed.  And shocked.  I’ve beta-tested a lot of Com2us’s games before, and they used to be all about the consumer and how they can make their games more appealing to the consumer.  But when they put in absurd in-app purchases, sell a game that’s nearly the same thing as the one before it, and even have banners of their own news take up a large portion of the screen, I can’t help but be disappointed.  Com2us, I have lost all respect for you, as this “sequel” is, as the title suggests, pathetic.

The game itself is fun though, so go on and pick up the first one.  It’s on sale for $0.99 and doesn’t have such an absurd in-app purchase system in it.

Homerun Battle 2 was developed by Com2us, and I played through version 1.0.1 on my iPhone 4s and iPad 2.  The price is $4.99.

Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 Review: Finish Him, Already!!!

Ah, Mortal Kombat…  What gamer of my generation doesn’t have some fond memories of this franchise?  I still recall the excitement and mystery it generated when a Mortal Kombat cabinet appeared one day next to Street Fighter II in the local arcade.  It quickly became the one game that always had a line in front of it, with scruffy older kids who probably smoked cigarettes ferociously gloating over their opponents and discussing how to perform Fatalities in conspiratorial whispers.  Mortal Kombat was a brand that embodied my nine-year-old’s version of “extreme,” and I was immediately hooked.  The year I got Mortal Kombat 1 for Game Gear, I faked being sick the next day so I could stay home and play it.  (And I took school pretty seriously.  This game was just that important.)  The franchise was a big part of my early adolescence.  So when Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 for iOS came out, imagine my delight!  However, now that I’ve played it, I can hardly begin to describe my disappointment.

I think I should be upfront:  Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 (“UMK3” from hereon, for the sake of brevity), as it exists in its current form, is one of the most unsatisfying games I’ve played for iOS to date.  This is partly because it displays enough potential that one can see that it could have been a really good game with a little more work.  Although it displays some good potential, and with the right updates UMK3 could become a top-notch game on iOS, right now it plays like a beta version.  There are a few commendable areas: Overall, the gameplay looks fairly good, and the animations are smooth.  Each character feels relatively complete, since they each retain most of their special moves, fatalities, babalities, animalities, and all the usual repertoire of Mortal Kombat malarkey that you have come to expect.

And, literally, that’s where my flattery ends.  If I didn’t have a journalistic obligation to uphold, I hardly would have even played this title for thirty minutes before deleting it from my device.  I can’t help but speculate UMK3 was the product of a very rushed attempt to get something onto the App Store before Apple’s holiday-season game approval deadline.  They probably should have just gritted their teeth and finished debugging it.


Graphics: Groan-inducingly enough, one of the few things I can list as a positive aspect of this game has already been a point of contention in how people have received it.  Instead of using digitized sprites for the character models, the designers have opted to go for three-dimensional animated character models. Personally, they don’t really bother me and from what I understand this was a necessary concession to keep the game running at a good frame-per-second rate.  However, response has been mixed, and I think there are some Mortal Kombat purists out there who consider anything besides a strict two-dimensional layout and digitized-sprite character models to be an unforgivable deviation from the formula.

Ambitiousness: Although the actuality of UMK3 as it exists currently is rather disappointing, I admire the scope of what the developers were trying for.  The gameplay doesn’t really work 100%, but to the extent that it does, it’s pretty reminiscent of the original Mortal Kombat 3, which was a good iteration of the series.  The characters all have a wide variety of finishing moves, unique special moves, and the usual generic Mortal Kombat arsenal of punches and kicks.  There is a good variety of arenas, many of which have arena-specific fatalities, and the general presentation of the game is fairly well-done.  It just seems as if for whatever reason, the game was rushed into Apple’s approval process before it was really ready to be released.  Which is a shame, because it feels like it could have easily been a much better game than it is.


The Kontrols are Krap: Really, there is just no way to make a good 1-on-1 fighting game without making sure it has adequate controls.  And whatever there is good about UMK3, of which there is some, gets completely undermined by the fact that the controls don’t work well enough to actually let the user derive any enjoyment from playing the game.

I would have a lot more sympathy for UMK3 if games like Blades of Fury and Street Fighter IV hadn’t already been out for this platform for quite some time now, proving that fighting games are possible on iOS (and in the case of Street Fighter, very good.)  However, especially in comparison to its old rival, the Street Fighter franchise, this version of Mortal Kombat suffers miserably when it comes to the controls.  Street Fighter is able to survive the translation to iOS still feeling much like the same game, by limiting the punches and kicks to one button each, as opposed to three for each.  Whereas Street Fighter IV for iOS accommodates itself to the limitations of the iPhone’s touch screen by significantly paring down the basic attacks available to each character, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 includes its full repertoire of basic attacks.  While this would be a bonus if the controls were sensitive enough, in short, they’re not.  The virtual joystick is painfully small and unreceptive (even for someone like myself whose thumbs are definitely not oversized).

There are two configurations of settings for the virtual buttons.  The first is the classic six-button arcade configuration, with high kick, low kick, high punch, low punch, block, and run.  The other configuration is a five-button setup with one punch, one kick, block, run, and a button to assist the player to pull off special moves more quickly and easily.  While this sounds all well and good, each configuration presents unique problems.  With the classic six-button approach, some special moves and nearly each and every Fatality can be maddeningly difficult to pull off, thanks in part to the muddy responsiveness of the virtual joystick.  However, with the five-button approach, you limit your ability to perform each character’s “cheese combos,” which are already really difficult to pull off anyways but deal so much damage as to be implicitly enticing.

To make matters worse, of course, the AI opponents have no trouble inflicting these massive combos on you.  Times are tough in The Outworld, apparently.

Load Times: There’s just a little too much loading between matches for my tastes.  This gets to be especially frustrating when you’re playing against Shao Kahn, because it can feel like you spend about ten seconds waiting to select your character, then about ten seconds waiting to fight, and then you lose the match in about twenty-five seconds.  Rinse, repeat.  It’s not too terrible, and honestly the other problems this game has far overshadow the load times.  But it’s a little extra irksomeness on top of all the annoyance that’s already there to be experienced.

Character Selection: Hopefully we can look forward to more characters in future updates (although fix the controls first or don’t even bother.)  But for now, the roster feels a little anemic.  We’re missing such fan-favorites as Raiden, Johnny Cage, Baraka, Kabal, Kano, etc.  Not to mention that some of the characters they’ve chosen to include seem like odd choices which could have been someone cooler.  Sheeva and Nightwolf?  Really??

Buggier than an Alabama Screen Door in July: As I’ve already mentioned, this game pretty much feels like a beta version.  The AI is extremely imbalanced and easily exploited.  For example, I’ve found I can effectively spam a computer opponent by running up to them and throwing them ad nauseam for the entire match.  On the other hand, if you should try to fight fair, you’ll most likely get that ass whupped on all but the easiest difficulty setting.  Again, this is largely because the CPU can, for example, freeze you and then effortlessly perform that six-hit combo that it takes you ten attempts to pull off correctly.

Speaking of buggy AI, fighting the bosses in this game is an excruciating annoyance. Motaro incessantly teleports from one side of the screen to another, in a way that feels less like the AI’s strategy and much more like a programming glitch.  Also, he frequently performs his next hit on you when you’re in the middle of your standing-up animation from his last one.  Shao Kahn on the other hand, just won’t let you get a hit in edgewise.  The only real way I’ve found to beat him so far are really cheaty-faced techniques, like getting a little damage on him and then spamming him with Stryker’s ‘takedown slide’ move.  If you just keep performing the move over and over, the clock will run out without him being able to hit you…  And that’s not exactly what I call ‘fun.’  But hey, I felt I had an obligation to at least finish the game, mind-numbingly frustrating as the experience became.

In short, I couldn’t recommend this game to anyone right now in good conscience.  It really could be terrific if the developers take the time to go back and meticulously fix the controls, and offer us a solid update.  I would love to see UMK3 stand tall as a worthy contender among the scarce amount of arcade-style fighting games on the App Store.  If we get controls that work, the next thing I would like to see would be more characters added to the roster.  But right now, all that is a mighty big if. As it currently stands, Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 for iOS gets low marks indeed, because it doesn’t feel quite ‘finished’ and the sheer frustration of trying to work with the controls precludes any real chance of having fun.

Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 was developed by EA Mobile, and I played through version 1.0.4 on my iPod touch 2G.  The price is $6.99.

Battlefield Bad Company 2 Review: Typical Electronic Arts

Electronic Arts isn’t exactly the greatest developer on the App Store.  Sure, their board games are pretty nice, and their Need for Speed racing games aren’t too shabby either.  But other than that, everything else seems to be quite a bore.

Battlefield Bad Company 2 included.

What tends to be a Call of Duty rival on consoles appears on the iPhone as nothing of the sorts, as in this case its closest rival would be Modern Combat 2.  The online multiplayer doesn’t work, the controls are terrible, and the voice-acting is on par with that of Gameloft.  Dare I use the words, “This game sucks”?


It’s a start: Couldn’t really think of anything to put in the Like section, but this is at least SOMETHING.  Battlefield Bad Company 2 is a start, with a solid—albeit short and not creative—single player campaign mode.  The online multiplayer is there, it just lags too much and takes way too long of a time to load.  The graphics need some improvement but aren’t that bad.


Everything else: Besides the fact that Battlefield Bad Company 2 is a start, it’s horrible.  The graphics leave a lot to desire, even though they aren’t too bad, and the multiplayer needs some serious fixing.  The price has gone up to $3.99, and the rating and entire review is really based on the price.  For a $0.99 shooter this really wouldn’t be that bad, but for $3.99?  Just spend three more to get Modern Combat 2.

The controls are also quite terrible, even after fiddling around with the options.  While I’m not too up in arms about gyroscopic controls—seriously, I don’t get the point of the whole gyroscope thing—the joystick itself is a little too… close together.  All the buttons seem to be placed in awkward spots, and the swipe-to-move-camera isn’t exactly smooth.

The game also crashes almost every other time I open it, which really shouldn’t be a problem two and a half years into the App Store.  On top of THAT, the frames per second seem to lower considerably if you’re under heavy fire, almost unable to move, zoom, and shoot down your opponent.

All in all, Battlefield Bad Company 2 is far from a complete package and even farther from being competition to Modern Combat and Gameloft’s whole franchise over there.  For right now, it’s nothing more than a bad first-person shooter.

Battlefield Bad Company 2 was developed by EA Mobile, and I played through version 1.0 on my iPhone 4.  The price is $3.99.

Rage HD Review: Don’t Expect a Game

Honestly speaking, there was so much hype around Rage for iPhone, it was ridiculous.  I, for one, thought that it would be similar to Doom Resurrection in that it was on-rails, but had some story or some premise to the game.

Little did I know that Rage HD would be nothing more than a tech demo, showing off the graphical capabilities of the iPhone.  Sure, id Software did a terrific job with the graphics and post-apocalyptic, freaky atmosphere, but other than that, you can hardly call this game.

Shoot this, collect ammo and money, and half an hour later you’re done with the game.  No spending your money on goodies, no reason as to why you just went through hell, and no other game modes to satisfy.  All that for $1.99?  Yep.


Graphics: The graphics are as good as advertised.  They’re definitely some of the best I’ve ever seen on the iPhone, although oddly enough, I wasn’t really wowed by them.  Still, you’ll appreciate the effort id went through to produce this type of look on a mobile device.


Short: You’re going to last 30 minutes.  Maybe even less.  There’s nothing else to do after playing through: money can’t be used for anything… there’s no point to it.

Lack of features: There’s only one game mode, a 30-minute survival mode, and it’s really lacking in features.  Mini-games, story/campaign mode… anything to add some replay value in this glorified tech demo.  Heck, it’s almost like Epic Citadel; I’ll bet there’s much more content in Epic Citadel than there is in Rage.

Right now, I’m just much too tired to explain ALL of Rage’s faults.  There’s such a long laundry list, but basically it’s that it doesn’t have a story and it’s short.  It’s basically a tech demo, and as a game, I can’t really recommend it to anyone.  There may be people out there that just want to see the graphics—great for you—but I’m sure many out there will feel quite disappointed at the end.  It’s not a fully-featured shooter, and it’s definitely not an “iPhone version of Rage”.

Rage HD was developed by id Software, and I played through version 1.0 on my iPhone 4.  The price is $1.99, and there is a version without Retina graphics for $0.99.

LotR Middle-earth Defense Review: A game deserving the wrath of Mordor

A thoroughly mediocre tower defense game wearing the thinnest veneer of a beloved intellectual property for the sake of retail markup, Lord of the Rings: Middle-earth Defense is a game which ought to be thrown into the molten bowels of Mordor.

LotR:MeD comes in two miserable flavors, a $6.99 iPhone version and a $9.99 HD version for the iPad. In either case, you’re paying a premium price for the license only, because the underlying game is just wretched.

The game takes all of the epic encounters from the film trilogy, and pulls them down to a sluggish pace for the sake of creating a plodding, uninspired tower defense game. And as if the gameplay weren’t bad enough, the game is just plain ugly to look at.


LotR: I love Lord of the Rings. I love the books, and I love the films. I even love the games. Just not this one.

Heroes: The game allows you to place the story’s heroes — Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas, the hobbits and others — has towers on the field. Using gold acquired in combat, you can level-up their attack strength, range, speed and special skills. These aspects of the game are actually pretty cool, but a sad case of good ideas buried in a poor game.


Graphics: Environments comprised of muddy textures, blocky and poorly animated character models, cheesy interface components and ugly text windows make the game an eyesore to behold. Even the typography is bad. To claim this game is HD is a bad joke, and I’m sure Glu will be laughing their way to the bank.

Pacing: There’s an option to run the stages at double-speed, but even that seems far too slow. I keep drifting off while playing the game, having to wrench my attention back to the screen to initiate the next wave of attack. The fact that the game can’t even hold my attention from one wave to the next is surely a bad sign. Eventually the game becomes difficult, but it never gets good.

Stage Design: Stages are not only muddy and ugly, but also poorly designed from the standpoint of interesting gameplay. Each stage consists of various paths along which the forces of Mordor may march. The game very clearly shows you the path enemies will follow. You can erect barriers to divert their progress along different paths, but the game only allows you very limited influence over their path. Likewise, friendly units may only be placed at specified points on the map were nodes indicate a defensible position. Everything seems to play out in a very by-the-numbers fashion, and players are provided much less control and far fewer strategic options than in other tower defense games. LotR:MeD really seems as if the developers mean for stages to be completed in only one way.

At time of this writing, LotR:MeD enjoys a solid four-star rating on the app store, but you and I know there are fanboys out there who will rate it highly based solely on the property. Truth be told, Lord of the Rings: Middle-earth Defense is both the worst LotR game and one of the worst tower defense games I have ever played. And were it not for the LotR license being attached, I’m certain most gamers would pass it by without a second thought.

For fans of the story who simply must have it all, nothing I write here will prevent you buying it. But for anyone else, I strongly advise steering clear of this. There are a thousand tower defense games in the app store more worthy of your time and money, offering both a better experience and a better bargain. Play one of them instead.

Lord of the Rings: Middle-earth Defense is developed by Glu Games, and available for $6.99 or $9.99 HD. Reviewed on an iPhone 4 and iPad.