Tag Archives: Worth A Look

NFL Flick Quarterback HD Review: It’s Just a Rookie

When I saw this game pop up in the App Store, my feelings were only of excitement, as always happens when something from the NFL appears let alone a game.  And while I was a bit disappointed when I saw that it was just an arcade game, I was still somewhat intrigued with the game because hey, licensed NFL games just don’t appear too often.

NFL Flick Quarterback yields a total of three gameplay modes: Playmaker, Trick Shot, and Trick Shot XL.  In Playmaker, you flick the ball towards a running receiver covered by defenders in order to score points, while in the Trick Shot modes, you try to flick the football into the trashcan.

And while I’m a huge fan of these flick sports type of games, NFL Flick Quarterback has failed to capture my attention for more than 10 minutes at a time.  Quite bluntly, there just aren’t enough game modes.  The Playmaker one is a lot of fun to play, but the Trick Shot ones are difficult, and the flick is inaccurate at times.  And just because it’s named Trick Shot XL instead of Trick Shot, it doesn’t mean that it’s an entirely new game mode.  I feel like Full Fat could have been a lot more creative than just adding a few more buckets to explode and make that as a new game mode.

While NFL Flick Quarterback is promising, it doesn’t have enough to keep me satisfied.

Likes

Graphics and Animations: The 3D player models aren’t all that detailed, but the graphics aren’t too bad.  The animations are probably some of the best I’ve seen in an arcade game, so kudos to them for some solid animations.  Overall, the game is designed well, with a clean layout along with very NFL-esque artwork.

GameCenter: I love the fact that the game includes GameCenter alongside 33 different achievements.  Absolutely love it.

Touchdown celebrations: There are a lot of different touchdown celebrations in this game, and it’s just fun to see what the player decides to do once he reaches the end zone.

Dislikes

Inaccuracy of the flick: The flick in the game is somewhat inaccurate.  For example, in the Playmaker mode, there are times when a flick will get to the receiver, but there are other times when the ball mysteriously falls short and goes to the other player.  In the Trick Shot modes, the ball does tend to go in weird places if you’re not exact with your flick, which is a reason why I’m not a huge fan of those modes.  It requires a little bit too much precision.

Lack of game modes: I really wish the developers would have added something other than just a Trick Shot and Trick Shot XL mode.  I mean seriously, there are some other modes they could have added such as a field goal kicking mode, hitting targets that pop up, and maybe even a mode in which the user has to throw to multiple receivers on the field.  Right now, the only mode that’s really fun for me is the Playmaker one, and I can only play that one for so long before I get bored.

NFL License?: That’s great that I can customize my own player, but who am I throwing to?  They’re advertising this as an NFL game, but beware, you won’t be throwing to the players you’re familiar with.  I mean seriously, who’s Davies?

NFL Flick Quarterback is a fun arcade game, but I wish there was more.  Right now, it’s just an overpriced arcade game that doesn’t exactly live up to its potential.  The GameCenter achievements are welcoming and all, but the gameplay is just lacking a real hook that I find in a lot of casual arcade games such as Flight Control or Fruit Ninja.  It’s fun for a couple of hours, but just note that it doesn’t last very long.

NFL Flick Quarterback HD was developed by Full Fat, and I played through version 1.0 on my iPad 2.  The price is $4.99.

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.

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.

Pulse: Volume One Review: Interesting Concept, But Fairly Raw Gameplay

Rhythm games on the App Store have all, for the most part, been exactly the same.  Rock Band Reloaded brought some interest with the whole vocal mode, and Guitar Hero implemented that interesting sliding mechanism.  But other than that, all of them have been very similar to the likes of Tap Tap Revenge: tap the dots as they roll down the screen.

Pulse takes all of that and changes everything.

In the center of the circles is a pulse that slowly moves from the inner circle to the outer, and you have to tap the dot once the “pulse” nears said dot.  The rhythm aspect of the game is surprisingly well done, and the dots seem to go right along with the song.

And while the concept is very interesting and a breath of fresh air, there are a lot of problems with Pulse that prevent it from being the greatest rhythm game out there.

For one, it’s extremely repetitive.  I can’t play this game for more than 20 minutes in a sitting, and generally, I can’t play more than two songs in a row.  And other than songs and playing along to some sort of campaign mode, there’s really nothing to play for.  No achievements, no leaderboards, no “star” system that rates your performance… the list goes on.

It looks pretty and all, but it’s the insides that count.

Likes

Graphics/UI: Pulse has an extremely clean UI that’s very appealing and very “indie”-like.  The graphics are also very clean and fits well with the theme; overall, I thought they (as in the developers) did a great job with the design.

Unique: I always love it when I see something unique in the App Store, and I love it even more that it’s a rhythm game.  In my mind, making a “unique” rhythm game is an extremely tough thing to do, what, with big monsters such as EA and Activision releasing their own, previously successful games onto the App Store.  If I rated Pulse based solely on uniqueness, it would be ranked in my top 5.

Dislikes

Repetitive: The songs are extremely repetitive, and with no real motive, you’re just playing for the sake of playing.  No achievements, no leaderboards, no “star” system (like I mentioned before)… it’s just extremely difficult to keep playing this game.  I’d rather be playing Guitar Hero and earning some stars while ranking high on the online leaderboards than play Pulse and receive no real reward for playing.

Difficulty: The songs get pretty difficult pretty fast, and while I’ve been able to play through expert on Guitar Hero with 5-star ratings, Pulse’s first song had me spinning my eyeballs and slightly panicking due to the sheer speed of the game.  And that’s only the first song; the songs following that were extremely difficult to follow, and I haven’t been able to receive more than a 70% on any of them.  For those that are interested in entering the rhythm genre, Pulse is, by far, not the best place to start.

I love Pulse: Volume One for one reason, and that’s because it’s unique.  Other than that, this is just another game with no real motive in playing, and I really don’t have an urge to play.  It needs a lot of improvements but has a lot of potential; hopefully the developers will improve upon it with an update or two because it would be quite saddening to see this concept go to waste.

Pulse: Volume One was developed by Cipher Prime Studios, and I played through version 1.1 on my iPad 2.  The price is $4.99.


Zenonia 3 Review: A great game that no one should play

As its name would imply, Zenonia 3: The Midgard Story is the third itineration of Gamevil’s smash-hit Zenonia franchise, and successor to one of the app store’s most prominent role-playing games.

The first Zenonia cemented itself into the hearts and minds of mobile gamers early on as one of the first iOS games to offer a complete RPG experience. The game was deeply flawed, but managed to rise above its many shortcomings. For one thing, it had virtually no competition within its genre; also, it was as close as iOS had to console classics such as The Legend of Zelda and Secret of Mana, though it fails to live up to either.

Zenonia’s second outing made welcome improvements. The graphics were little better — still smudgy and out-of-focus looking, having been upscaled from mobile phones — but the redesigned interface, improved controls and sound design, new character classes and other refinements resulted in a vastly superior game.

In many ways, Zenonia 3 is more of the same; it doesn’t rewrite the rules, but it does adhere to the second game’s precedent of refining the formula. But given the app store’s present RPG landscape — in which we see Zenonia now completing with ports of Final Fantasy I, II and III, and Secret of Mana, original role-playing games such as Chaos Rings, Eternal Legacy, Aralon and Across Age, and a slew of KRPGs including three Inotia titles, Queen’s Crown, and the utterly brilliant Wild Frontier — does more of the same old Zenonia stand up to expectations?

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Zenonia 3 follows the adventures of Chael and his fairy companion, Runa. Chael is the son of Regret, protagonist of the first Zenonia. The game’s overarching story is that of a conflict between Good and Evil — the Divine and the Damned — and humanity caught in between. The opening scenes depict a battle between the knights of divinity and the invading demonic forces, and … I’m already bored. It’s only the same scene I’ve seen opening nearly every Korean RPG I’ve ever played. But then, Zenonia has never been a narrative powerhouse. Fortunately, the game fairs better in other areas.

The most notable improvement is the graphical presentation. Gone are the blurry sprites of Zenonias past, which were awful even on pre-retina displays. Zenonia 3 is the first pretty Zenonia, crisp and colorful even on the iPhone 4 retina display, and a very welcome visual treat.

The game’s interface is also much improved over previous games, no longer the cumbersome beast it once was. The on-screen controls are responsive and as unobtrusive as might be hoped for, while the in-game menu — from which stats, skills, equipment, inventory and quests are monitored and managed — is slick, intuitive and easy to use. In addition to being functional, the interface enjoys quite a bit of visual flair, and the controls may be repositioned and the opacity adjusted to the user’s preference.

Gameplay-wise, Zenonia 3 remains a KRPG with the usual trappings: grinding and fetch quests. However, as far as I have played, the game has been much more judicious in its handling of these aspects than previous entries. You will still be required to revisit old territory maybe a little too often, but things are not as bad as they once were, and all of the other gameplay improvements make the backtracking more tolerable than before. Beginning a new game, players complete a brief tutorial quest and are then warped into a mysterious dungeon for some real adventuring. I was grateful not to have to complete a slew of menial chores before being allowed to venture forth.

Combat is similar to past entries — an attack button to mash, and various attack skills available at an MP cost — but feels better on account of more responsive controls and better combo animations.

The supremely annoying weight and hunger systems of past entries have been dropped in Zenonia 3, which is for the best. They were a buzzkill and will not be missed.

There are four character classes from which to choose: the strength-based, melee fighting Sword Knight; the agile Shadow Hunter, relying on criticals to deal heavy damage; the Mechanic Launcher, a gun-toting ranged battler; and the Nature Shaman, a magical ranged class.

Chael’s character sprite looks fantastic to begin with, with variations for each chosen class. And as you play through the game and don various new armaments, his appearance will evolve to reflect his gear.

Overall, Zenonia 3’s enemies are also a step up from previous efforts. The tribesmen faced early on are awesome looking, and boss battle are also more impressive than in previous games.

Zenonia 3 sports a number of social features, including Game Center support and achievements with Facebook and Twitter posting. There are two types of network play, asynchronous PvP and co-op play in the Execution Rooms, both accessible from towns. Also, messages and items may be exchanged with other players via the Network Gal in each town.

A number of smaller flourishes round out the experience, such as quest markers now appearing on doorways when important NPCs lurk inside of buildings, some Game Center achievements manifesting themselves as equipable “titles” in-game which grant bonuses to the player, and the ability to level-up and customize your fairy companion to realize advantages in combat.

Zenonia 3 is not without it’s shortcomings, however. There’s a bug to keeps the game clock running even when the game is inactive during multitasking; at time of writing my game clock shows 18 hours on account of my not killing the app overnight. While the narrative has its moments, the overall tale is dreadfully dull, having been done to death by so many games before. The script is also rife with grammatical errors and spelling mistakes, typical of games translated from Korean. Gameplay-wise, Zenonia 3 offers nothing we haven’t already seen in the previous two games; it’s the same old song and dance, but delivered in a more palatable package, making the game more of an upgrade than a new experience. Level grinding and fetch quests make their triumphant return to artificially extend gameplay, but I expected no less; I’ve long begrudged KRPGs for their stubborn adherence to what is essentially junk gameplay. And combat does become repetitive, as there is really little to the mechanic beyond standing in place, mashing the attack button …

My final gripe is the in-app purchases (IAP), and this is a BIG GRIPE. The game will give you a handful of Examine scrolls, Origin of Life items, and other “Paid” items in the course of play, but insofar as I have seen, the only way to get more of these items is to pay out-of-pocket for IAP. Considering that such items were available for purchase from item merchants in previous games — using the in-game currency, rather than real-world currency — it’s bullshit they are only available as IAP this time around. Especially considering that Origin of Life items are nearly essential to completing the game, as you will otherwise be penalized with experience and equipment durability reductions for dying — and die you will a lot later into the game, and usually unfairly. Considering the game costs $4.99 to begin with, Gamevil is seriously screwing players with IAP and Zenonia fans should be outraged. I sincerely hope players will make themselves heard on the matter. Furthermore, many of the restorative items and equipment available via IAP could potentially give players an unfair advantage in network play, essentially making the IAP a major disincentive to engage in network play for those unwilling or unable to afford IAP. Much as I like Zenonia 3 otherwise, Gamevil ought to be changing their company name to GamEVIL for this one. I cry foul.

While I’ve felt that past Zenonias were mostly overhyped and under-realized, Zenonia 3 is the first game of the series I feel truly deserves whatever praise it may find. It looks great, plays well and holds a lengthy adventure in store for those willing to see it through. Removal of the weight and hunger systems from previous games has really helped to streamline the experience, leaving the kernel intact without the chaff, and the interface and control overhaul make playing the game better than ever.

Despite app store crowding, there’s always room for another RPG if it’s a good one, and Zenonia 3 is just that. Mind you, it’s still a Korean RPG with all that implies — the grinding, the fetch quests and the grandiose, hackney storytelling that may turn off some players — but fans of the genre should know by now to expect such things, that they’re just a part of the deal. Accepting that, I would gladly give Zenonia 3: The Midgard Story an effortless recommendation. And yet, I cannot effortlessly recommend Zenonia 3, because much as I feel the game has going for it, there is one major bugbear that derails every good thing I have to say about the game. And that’s the IAP.

It is ABSURD that a game costing $4.99 should be so bogged down by in-app purchase, and all but require you to spend yet more of your money on expendible items. I would expect this from a freemium title — it is the very nature of freemium games to nickel-and-dime gamers into poverty — but not from a premium RPG in a longstanding, well-regarded franchise. I am fully in favor of IAP being available for players wanting to enhance their gaming experience, but IAP is plain evil when a game all but requires that you spend real-world money to see it through to completion.

I genuinely like Zenonia 3: The Midgard Story, but cannot in good conscious recommend it to gamers. The IAP is a textbook perfect example of how to ruin an otherwise good game, and clear indication that Gamevil doesn’t really value its fans and supporters.

You have been warned.

If you really want a good KRPG and one that doesn’t attempt to fleece you, play Wild Frontier.

Zenonia 3 [$4.99 + bullshit IAP] is developed and published by Gamevil. Reviewed on an iPhone 4.