Fightback Review

Fightback Review

Jul 29, 2014

Fightback puts the player in the bloodstained shoes of Jack a hard ex-soldier whose sister has been kidnapped by Drago, a mysterious figure from his past. Are you a bad enough dude to rescue Jack’s sister?

Screenshot_2014-07-24-19-51-11Fightback nails the old school Beat ‘Em Up vibe perfectly. Jack, the stone cold badass, makes his way through seedy locales such as trashy apartment buildings and dirty rooftops and bashes up mohawked punks and guys in leather jackets who shout at him. While doing this he wears a dirty white singlet, aviator sunglasses and jeans. It feels exactly like the kind of world found in classic fighters like Final Fight and Streets of Rage and the sweaty, dirty atmosphere is tangible. You half expect Jack to get into a Dodge Challenger and light up a smoke at the end of each level.

Combat is loads of fun in Fightback and very fluid. Taps punch, while swipes kick. A series of taps or swipes executes a combo and they can be mixed up any which way. Jacks position when you attack also affects what happens, so swiping up after ducking to avoid a punch results in a jumping knee while swiping behind Jack executes a nasty back kick. When the game’s rolling along with multiple enemies in screen it’s a dynamic mix of frantic dodging and brutal looking punches and kicks

Screenshot_2014-07-24-20-29-01Enemies can be kicked into the air and pummelled like makeshift piñatas. Lowlifes come from both sides constantly, so the player must decide whose blood gets on their knuckles first. Like any good Beat ‘Em Up, weapons like bats and cleavers are dropped by enemies that can be used. Guns also play a small part in Fightback. Shooting a punk in the face is undoubtedly an excellent way of stopping him from attacking you, but guns can only be bought between levels and are extremely expensive.

Fightback has a lot of freemium features. The game constantly bugs you to spend money on temporary buffs like bulletproof vests but money is much better spent on boosting stats. Jack starts off rather weak and boosting both his defense and attack strength is vital to surviving the crowds of enemies in later levels. Upgrades get pricey in a hurry and the game never seems to award quite enough money to play the game properly. Repeating earlier, already beaten floors isn’t just a good idea, it’s required.

Fightback also includes a dreaded energy system. Jack can handle six fights before having to rest for about an hour to refill his energy. This never changes. If Figthback dumped its energy system it would improve the game immensely.

Fightback looks fantastic. As said above, it nails the 80’s action movie style and there is a great sense of atmosphere and personality. The sound is very well done as well. Pumping action music and painful sounding combat really make Fightback special.

Fightback is yet another quality game trapped in the mire of freemium. It has some super fun gameplay on offer and players who can look past its annoying freemiuem features will find some smooth exciting gameplay.


Free The Network Review

Free The Network Review

Jul 28, 2014

There are numerous endless runners on Android, and Free the Network is an okay one. It does at least three things right; mainly the controls.

The endless runner genre is highly represented on Android devices, mainly because, for one, it doesn’t take very much effort to develop one. Yes, there are some runners, like Subway Surfers, where one can clearly state that a lot of effort has been put in the creation of the game, but most of them are simple, 2D runners without any big differences compared to other titles. And some of those runners are 3D and simple, but do have some nice features to show for. Like Free the Network.

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Take, for instance, the graphical appeal of the game. Sure, it is not unique, but it looks really nice. Free the Network takes place on a endless tube, changing color depending on the zone the player is. Players must help the white ball on the bottom of the screen evade all the things that are on the tube and the further a player gets, the higher the score of course. The gameplay is right from the start fast paced and quite difficult, so players get challenged right away.

Next to the awesome graphics of the game, Free the Network does two other things right: it gives the player the option to control the ball (well, the tube actually) with the motion controls of the smartphone or with the two on-screen arrows. Normally, digital buttons wouldn’t be my first choice, but since precise motion controls aren’t invented yet on smart devices, I was really glad to play the game on my on way. I gave me a much bigger sense of control.

The second thing the game has going for it, is that it presents the moment the player died the round before. A big, white circle appears at that point, so players can clearly see their progression since the last round. It is a nice touch. Could have been better, though. Because it only presents the round before, players still get left in the dark in terms of overall progression. But hey, maybe another 3D endless runner could fill up that gap. But this one, this one is okay and quite fun to play.

Beyond Gravity Review

Beyond Gravity Review

Jul 28, 2014

Beyond Gravity is a simple game about an astronaut who got stranded in open space with his spaceship’s parts flying around. Well, I say open space, but it’s actually crammed with planetoids that the astronaut can jump between, collecting any parts that he comes across on the way. The astronaut can’t move around the planets, but he can jump across them, so the player needs to pick the right moment to jump off the spinning rock to reach another one.

There are two paths between each planet. The straightforward path, when a hero jumps while looking straight at it, and a curved one, when he needs to aim correctly, so that the curvature of the jump would lead him to the planet, and not into the gaping nothingness below. Naturally, most of the parts he needs, are along the second path. It’s actually pretty easy to guess the angle, since the floating parts act as guidelines, and the astronaut can double-jump, if the jump got grossly miscalculated, but it’s not the only challenge. There are also asteroids that fly between some of the planets at high speed, and it’s rather difficult to avoid them, even when you don’t try to collect the damn parts.

The parts aren’t there just for the score-keeping, by the way, as they should be spent on different upgrades for the astronaut, giving him much needed versatility. Frankly, the Beyond Gravity 3upgrades aren’t that impressive, but they do help a bit.

What Beyond Gravity definitely lacks is depth. Once the tricky jumping mechanics are figured out, the jump calculations slowly start moving into subconsciousness and you end up sitting with a blank look on your face, as the bearded guy keeps jumping between the rocks like a space grasshopper. Some additional mechanics could go well, or some new challenges, or whatever. Mini-missions are a good thing, but it’s not enough in the long run, I think.

Overall, Beyond Gravity is a fine game. It looks great, it has crystal-clear mechanics, simple controls, and no bugs – what’s more to ask? If the simplicity isn’t an issue, it’s a great time-waster.

Battle Bears Ultimate Review

Battle Bears Ultimate Review

Jul 28, 2014

Battle Bears Ultimate is a first person team based deathmatch shooter with all the jumping and shooting veterans of Quake or Counter Strike would expect. Is it worth bear-ing with?

Screenshot_2014-07-25-00-56-03Battle Bears Ultimate is pretty light on play modes. Besides basic ranked team DM and unranked DM, the only other mode is Capture the Flag. The mian mode in Battle Bears Ultimate is Deathmatch, which features players running around trying to kill their opponents. Weapons are acquired between games from chests and are randomly awarded. Some players may have much worse or better weapons than other players.

Weapons are fairly limited as well. There are a few kinds of assault rifles, a few heavier weapons such as chainguns and a few explosive weapons like rocket launchers. While fun to use, there are no really interesting weapons.

Battle Bears Ultimate doesn’t play a particularly good game of Deathmatch, compared to the plethora of amazing online mobile FPS games like Modern Combat and Dead Trigger. It suffers from bouts of severe lag, poor weapon balancing and some poor maps that encourage camping more than a little. One map in particular has players begin in a small room and run down a ramp to enter the fray. It is very susceptible to one team simply being spawn camped the whole game.

Screenshot_2014-07-25-02-48-51Battle Bears Ultimate really embraces pay to win in a big way. The game uses a poorly though out system where the player is awarded chests during gameplay which contain a random prize, such as a new gun or a boost. Chests need keys to get the item. Keys are doled out one at a time when the player levels up. The only other way of acquiring keys is using real money, denying non-paying players the items.

The random nature of what’s in a chest is a pain as well. A chest might contain anything from an awesome weapon to a useless piece of clothing or other cosmetic object. This is especially bad for new players, who might unlock chests with useless items instead of desperately needed weapons. The default equipment new players get is no match at all for even the weakest weapons found in chests.

Battle Bears Ultimate looks pretty nice. It is amusing to see teddy bears running around blowing each other away and some of the maps have some interesting features in them. The map with a destroyed mountainous village with a flying sailing ship circling it and a futuristic city map stand out. The sound however is quite poor. Weapons sound weak and taunts and speech are very repetitive. The music salvages the sound a little bit as it’s very catchy.

Battle Bears Ultimate is a nearly unplayable FPS, mainly due to the haphazard way weapons are handed out and lag. It is certainly not worth playing when there are awesome multiplayer games like Modern Combat 4 around which provide hours of exciting gameplay with good weapons, exciting class based gameplay and no lopsided matchmaking. Battle Bears Ultimate might be fun for a few minutes, but its freemium features are its death knell.


Modern Combat 5: Blackout Review

Modern Combat 5: Blackout Review

Jul 28, 2014

The mighty Modern Combat series has long been one of the premiere shooters on mobile. While obviously aping Call of Duty, there is little argument that a series of well-made modern shooters is welcome on Android. Modern Combat 5: Blackout hopes to carry on the series of excellence and make Deathmatch loving gamers hot and bothered all over again.

Screenshot_2014-07-25-17-25-43Modern Combat 5 features a single player campaign but, unlike Modern Combat 4, it simply feels and literally is training for MP. In MC5 the player character is shared over MP and SP, so experience gained for killing enemies and beating missions in SP also boosts the player’s MP prospects.

The single player campaign is very similar to other modern shooters. There are terrorists, a sinister plot and plenty of turncoats and intrigue. The acting isn’t terrible, but it just pales compared to Modern Combat 4’s story.

Modern Combat 5’s gameplay is pretty much the same as MC4. There is cover to hide behind lots of enemies to fill full of lead and hostages to save. The biggest difference is that Modern Combat 5 features very short levels that are generally 2-3 minutes long. They are nowhere near as good as the 20-30 minute epics some missions in Modern Combat 4 turned into. Modern Combat 5’s missions feel too much like a collection of small rooms and isolated shootouts, rather than one homogeneous battle.

Screenshot_2014-07-28-04-30-03Between single player missions, the player is forced to grind though pointless side missions that must also be beaten to continue. These range from just killing all enemies, to killing all enemies and defusing a bomb. These missions are boring and simply serve as filler and experience fodder to gain levels.

Multiplayer is largely the same as Modern Combat 4, but since weapons unlock based on kills it’s much easier to focus on gaining a few weapons the player likes, rather than having to level up and arbitrarily be awarded new equipment. The wonky controls really make multiplayer feel like a crapshoot however. The matchmaking is fatally flawed. Level 5 players will be paired with any enemy at all, even lv 32 players who will effortlessly cap them.

Modern Combat 5 fails majority in the controls department. With no external controller support on release and loose, awkward touch controls, actually playing Modern Combat 5 with any kind of grace is exceedingly difficult. Things like sweeping your aim over to an enemy that just appeared takes a very long time and MP seems more luck based since the player can’t react very quickly without precise controls. MOGA support will likely improve the game a great deal.

Weapons in Modern Combat 5 just aren’t punchy or fun to use. Assault rifles have no recoil to speak off and sound very tinny and unimpressive. Shotguns lack a satisfying boom.

Modern Combat 5 is a competent, but unpolished entrant in the venerable Modern Combat series and for the price is tenuously worth a buy. Its issues will likely be tightened up with post release patches.


Ruzzle Adventure Review

Ruzzle Adventure Review

Jul 25, 2014

What does a developer do when a game around forming words and multiplayer becomes a succes? It takes out fifty procent of that golden formula and turns it to a list of chores.

Ruzzle Adventure is a game where players need to form words on a grid full of letters. In the past, we’ve seen dozens of iterations of this concept in the form of Boggle, Wordfeud or even an earlier published version of Ruzzle. In all those games the goal is the same: make as many words as possible, to get the highest score. By making bigger words and combining tougher letters to make words with, the score multiplier raises and so does one’s score. Remember Scrabble?

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In Ruzzle Adventure, that base concept remains the same as well. But to spice things up, developer MAG Interactive made up a adventure mode around the concept of forming words, changing the succesfull multiplayer formula into a singleplayer campaign. And, as one might guessed it, it’s complete with those social gaming tropes of today: Ruzzle Adventure has leaderboards, the three golden stars system and even different kinds of power-ups to challenge players even more.

But the question is: does a social word game need an singleplayer complete with power-ups? The reason games like Scrabble and Wordfued were so popular, is because one had to play it with someone else. I found myself a bit isolated while playing the game and that wasn’t a nice feeling to deal with. I missed the social interaction of laughing when I won from a friend or complementing each other when we found a word that held massive points. It makes the game so much better.

But truth be told, the challenges in Ruzzle Adventure are mostly fun to play. There are different kinds of objectives present, like completing the game as fast as possible or breaking wooden or even stone bricks. Completing the objective results in receiving one star. When the player meets a certain amount of points, it receives the second star. And when meeting the higher expectation, a third star is obtainable – but that might take some practice, especially in the beginning.

But the challenge really disappears when there is a stone letter in one of the corners of the grid. I had the letter T right there and I needed to break it to move on. I couldn’t making larger words than ‘pets’, ‘hat’ and ‘rat’ and that feels a bit underwhelming. At that point, the gamer and the game are lacking creativity – which, in my opinion, should be a corner stone of the game entirely. But these kind of assignments, because that’s how they feel, are mandatory in order to complete the game.

At the end, that’s how I feel about Ruzzle Adventure. It’s a game were players need to finish assignments based around the concept of forming words by themselves, while it is much more fun to player these game competitively with at least one more friend around – hence the game that started it all, Scrabble. Leaderboards just don’t cut it. Why MAG Interactive shoveled out the multiplayer is a riddle to me, because some of the new gameplay mechanics could work fine in multiplayer.

Shurican Review

Shurican Review

Jul 25, 2014

Man, developers still make flappy games? I thought that that hype was over, but judging by the game Shurican, there still were some… I don’t know what to call it… Innovations..? …left in the subgenre. Yeah, I was surprised as well.

How much can different people do with one mechanic? And especially the flappy mechanic? By looking at the flappy games in Google’s Play Store, not very much. Many of the flappy games are direct and shameless clones of the original and unintended successful original one, but sometimes a good one pops up and offers the same, but somewhat a different challenge. Shurican is one of those game, and not only because the game is played in widescreen mode.

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In Shurican, players need to tap the screen to keep the black ninja afloat. Just like in Flappy Bird, one tap means a small boost upwards. The goal is to evade all the obstacles presented to the player. And believe me, there are much more of them then in any flappy game I have ever played. Saws, spikes, roatating saws, moving spikes, devils, shooting devils, smashing devils, fire, more spikes and saws – really, this game is brutal. The developer even asks the player not to hate him, in game.

Well, hate is a strong word and an even stronger feeling, so we won’t go that far. There is, however, a mechanic of which I’m not very fond of. If players tap the screen twice, the black ninja will shoot a metal star out of its hand, clearing the area of those pesty little devils. But the double tap also means that the ninja will go twice as high upwards, making it a decision between killing a devil of evading the rotating saw. Sounds fun, but in reality, it is not. It makes the game unneccesary harder.

Not that I don’t like a challenging game. Only this mechanic presents fake choices, because the ninja must and will always jump. Also, it doesn’t make the game any more fun than it would be without the mechanic. Still, if Android gamers still love the flappy games and are in need of a die hard challenge, I can recommend the game. Because just like any other flappy clone, the base is solid and the graphics are okay – and it even has two modes to dig in.

Super Tank Arena Battles Review

Super Tank Arena Battles Review

Jul 25, 2014

In Super Tank Arena Battles, we get the to see our favorite weapons (tanks) go head to head in our favorite fight environment (an arena). It just gets even more hyper from there.

It’s a simple looking game, but still manages to impress graphically, with the opening menu made up of cheery animations and pastels guiding the text. Here, amongst other options, we are presented with 5 game modes: Survival, Catch The Flag, One On One, Mines Rush and Hardcore Survival.The first is open, while the others need a threshold of some sort needed to unlock successive modes.

Tapping to get into Survival launches one headfirst into the basics; as the title suggests, it is an arena stab1fighter, and the main playing area is dark. Artistically, this allows the colored tanks that roam the playing area and other elements to really pop out.

The “home” tank can be controlled by dragging, which works as the main control since the tank perpetually shoots. In the first mode, other tanks move in, and basically, it is literally a battle for survival, with points being awarded for destroying the quickly-replicating enemies. The game has arcade elements, foremost in the digital representation of small colorful dots that appear randomly, and that act as power-ups when “collected” by driving over them. These power-ups are quite varied, but still what one would expect: stuff like weapon upgrades, shields, repair/health packets and even stuff like nukes that are effective in disposing of the enemy.

I like the way the different modes are linked with regards to the unlocking mechanism, and the simplicity of the game overall. On the play side, I’m not overly enamored of the controls; it works, but I tend to dislike drag controls, because they tend to cover a good portion of the screen in landscape.

All in all though, it is a better — far better — than average, and simple elegance of the graphics and gameplay mostly cover the distractions.

Defenderia Review

Defenderia Review

Jul 25, 2014

DEFENDERIA 2Defenderia presents an unusual mix between a classical squad-based role-playing game and a match-three arcade game. It also presents a strong case for hiring professional interpreters instead of using your own, heavily lacking English knowledge. I mean, wow. The game is good, but I had to learn its mechanics basically on my own, as it’s completely impossible to understand the tips and tutorials.

Apart from that, Defenderia is a fun game, although I think that it’s a bit short. The player controls three heroes, divided into three roles. Each role has two to three different characters that can fill it, although I didn’t notice much synergizing between any of them. The characters have a basic attack and a special attack that they have to use in order to defeat the stacks of enemies, coming at them in three columns. The battles are strictly turn-based, with each character getting a turn according to the value of his initiative. The player chooses an attack and then the target. The trick is not just to pummel the mob to nothingness, but to do the combos. Basically, each enemy has a plate underneath it. When three enemies with plates of the same color, or of different colors, but excluding the brown ones, face the heroes, these enemies get a significant amount of damage. If the player removes just the right enemy, and is a bit lucky, it’s possible to kill most of the mob in just one turn.

Defenderia is divided into a dozen maps that consist of several randomly-generated squares, contents of which are often only revealed when the player has already stepped on it. To finish the map, the player needs to uncover a boss square and defeat the boss, before getting all of his heroes killed. It has lots of little mechanics, like consumables that heal or improve damage, smiths that forge random items for the heroes, and enemies that have different abilities. It’s weird that a game with this rich amount of mechanics would look so primitive, but if you can get past the simple graphics and horrendous translation, it’s really enjoyable.

Falldown! Deluxe Review

Falldown! Deluxe Review

Jul 24, 2014

Falldown! Deluxe is a stylish new game in the ambiguously named falling ball genre. Is it worth having a ball?

Falldown! Deluxe is as simple to play as it is to comprehend. The player controls a ball rolling along a series of platforms with gaps that can be fallen into to advance. Meanwhile, a deadly ball cooking laser moves inexorably downwards all the while. The player must quickly roll the ball down gaps in each level of the playfield.

Screenshot_2014-07-17-23-12-54As the player advances, every 5 levels or so they reach the next level where gaps tend to be further away from each other, making it much harder to drop the ball in time.

After the player inevitably gets roasted, collected currency can be used to purchase additional ball styles and backgrounds to spruce the game up a bit.

Falldown! Deluxe is a very simple game anyone can play. Kids will likely enjoy it and its nonviolent nature and simple controls make it easy for them. It’s a good game to fill a few minutes in a queue or whenever.

Screenshot_2014-07-17-23-13-36Falldown! Deluxe looks nice. There are plenty of trippy colours and sparkly backgrounds that only become moreso after a few purchases. The frame rate is solid and there are no extraneous ads or anything else to get in the way of the game. Some nice techno music adds a lot to the game as well.

Falldown! Deluxe lacks achievements or anything else that could really give it any shelf life, although there is a high school list. After a few games the player has really seen everything it has to offer and all items in the shop are just ones that change the game’s appearance. There are no interesting power-ups or anything of the like to give the game a bit of much needed variety. Falldown! Deluxe is unlikely to hold anyone’s attention for longer than few minutes at a time.

Falldown! Deluxe is a serviceable game and it does everything it sets out to do just fine. However, a terminal lack of depth means there are much more interesting games to play on Android. Good for kids.

Need A Hero Review

Need A Hero Review

Jul 24, 2014

Need A Hero is a game that challenges folks to match objects while being a hero.

On the surface, it looks like a simple turn-based game that pits our protagonists against several fanciful foes in his quest to save the princess. Beneath the surface, however, it is a bit more complex.

After the preliminary backstory, the game’s core elements are initially represented by a playing area with dueling parties at the top: our hero and a baddie. The action between the two is generally determined by the main element.

The main course has to deal with matching like objects in a column that sports several different colored pieces.need1 Using colors as the main guide, the idea is to connect as many matching colors via gesture dragging in straight lines and adjacent angles. Connected pieces, ordinarily, dissolve and get replaced by new ones in a seemingly random manner. The longer the chain, the more attack power is generated, so longer combinations are definitely encouraged. Combinations yield special pieces, which in turn can trigger boosted reactions which are great for some specific situations.

In essence, the efficacy of the matching game determines the effectiveness of the strikes. As noted, longer chains create hits with more damage, but one has to take into account the return hits as well. There is a palpable arcade feel, with special combos yielding boosts like donkey kicks and lightning strikes, or even the ability to freeze the opponent for a set number of moves. In the end, it is still a turn-based war of attrition; whoever depletes the other’s lifeline with life left in their own wins. It’s leveled with crafting elements, and accumulated game cash can be supplemented with that of the real kind. There is an energy requirement (boo!) but it isn’t too strenuous in nature.

It is a simple game; if one is after complex logic, it might not hold much appeal. It works in that it does multiple things proficiently at the same time.

Sky Force 2014 Review

Sky Force 2014 Review

Jul 24, 2014

Sky Force 2014 is a curious mix of freemium and old school shooter. Does it work?

Sky Force 2014 is a classically styled, old school vertical shooter. The player travels up the screen dodging around and blasting the heck out of a bunch of different enemies. Huge, ships small planes and gigantic bombers fill out the vast armies the player fights on each level. And players will have plenty of time to admire these enemies. The game works on a grading system where the player must repeat levels until they gain a certain percentage of enemies destroyed or so on. This leads to rather a lot of grinding to afford better parts to actually complete these challenges.

Screenshot_2014-06-21-15-17-24Skyforce 2014 lacks powerups and even alternate weapons, which may be a bummer for some players. Part of the fun of shooters is picking up and using different weapons and powerps. Sky Force 2014 however mostly gets by using the same main gun which can be upgraded with stars collected from dead enemies. These stars can be exchanged for upgrades between levels that make the gun fire faster and do more damage, but it never really gets more interesting than its single orange bullets without a lot of invested time. There are a few other weapons in the game, but it is not clear how to unlock them or indeed how different they are.

The lack of weapons and pretty tame gameplay kind of sabotage Sky Force 2014. With the large amount of great looking, full featured shooters on Android it is difficult to find time for one that has so few weapons and also attempts to nickel and dime the player. The game just never seems to hit a groove and the most fun part of the game is the very beginning. The player flies a very powerful ship for a few minutes, before it is destroyed and they return in a very weak fighter, pew pewing small bullets.

Screenshot_2014-06-21-13-42-52Skyforce 2014 looks great. Some sharp, colourful graphics really make the game pop and small details like the way stars sparkle and smoke hangs in the air from destroyed enemies gives the game some class. There is a great variety of enemies and the game as a whole is silky smooth and looks excellent. It nails the vibe of an old school arcade shooter while still looking modern.

The sound is similarly excellent. Skyforce 2014 has some very unique music that sounds just like 8 bit chiptunes, which are very catchy. The sound effects for shooing and explosions work well. There is a fair bit of speech in the game as well to alert the player of game events and to provide a bit of backstory. Great stuff!

Sky Force 2014 has a fair few levels and the game is quite difficult, but it is hard to tell if this is by design, or due to the in app purchase system deliberately weakening the player.

Sky Force 2014 is a tolerable shooter, but its lack of interesting weapons and annoying, grindy freemium system dooms it to take a backseat to many other shooters on the platform.