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Usain Bolt Gets New Gear in Temple Run 2

Posted by on Aug 4, 2015

Usain Bolt gets new uniform in Temple Run 2.

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Games

Fruit Attacks Review

Posted by on Aug 4, 2015

A fresh action puzzler that taxes the thumbs.

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Productivity

MyScript Stylus Review

Posted by on Jul 17, 2015

Renown writing technology... packaged for Android.

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App Rundown

Fruit Attacks Review

Posted by on Aug 4, 2015

A fresh action puzzler that taxes the thumbs.

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Storm of Swords Review

Storm of Swords Review

Jul 31, 2015

A-and we’re back with the strategies. Storm of Swords, despite its catchy name, has nothing to do with Game Of Thrones universe, and thankfully, doesn’t try to. It’s a cartoony free-to-play strategy game with all the staple elements, and even with a couple more.

The gameplay of Storm of Swords looks a lot like Clash of Clans copycat, but in fact, it’s a bit different than that. There are a lot of similarities, of course. The player needs to maintain a medieval castle, while fighting with roaming bandit hordes, orcs, goblins, and other fantasy cliches. The castle requires a lot of different buildings, serving various purposes. The player can build resource-gathering buildings to haul the needed resources. He can also build castle defenses and barracks, Storm of Swords 3in order to be prepared for the possible invasion, and to maintain his own army. Lastly, the player has a hero that he can equip, improve, as well as hire new ones. They are required for the army to function, and are the most powerful units out there, so they require a lot of preparation. I doubt that any of that is very different for experienced FTP strategy players, though. Oh, also, there’s no actual battle strategy. After two armies start clashing, there seems to be no way for the player to interact with the battle.

The big part of Storm of Swords is a sprawling multiplayer element. The player’s castle is situated on a server that also holds a bunch of different castles, and whenever a player reaches a certain kingdom level, he is able to transfer to another one, with different enemies and similarly powerful players. This keeps the players on a seemingly leveled playing field, at the same time making the game feel fresh. I’d say that this system works great.

Overall, Storm of Swords looks alright. It’s not flashy and doesn’t try to re-imagine things, but it works well as a casual free-to-play strategy. The gameplay emphasizes more of an economic accent, but there’s enough fighting for the aggressive types. I definitely see it becoming a favorite for some players.

Audiobooks.com Adds Android Auto Compatibility

Audiobooks.com Adds Android Auto Compatibility

Jul 30, 2015

Audiobooks.com has just announced that it now works with Android Auto… and all the audio book road warriors that can enjoy such a natural pairing can smile in appreciation.

This means that folks who make use of the premier content provider can enjoy access via vehicles that incorporate Google’s burgeoning connected endeavor. It also makes Audiobooks.com the first audio book provider to support Android Auto.

Audiobooks.com General Manager Ian Small leaves no doubt as to the importance of integrating with Android Auto. “The experience of using an application while you are on the road is entirely different than using it on a phone or a computer,” he says. “We made integration with Android Auto a high priority because we wanted to give drivers the best audiobook experience that this new technology allows. Our goal is to revolutionize the in-car experience, and to make the 100+ hours a year Americans spend commuting to work and 38 hours a year stuck in traffic more enjoyable.”

The new combination is available to Audiobook.com users that have access to Android Auto; for a list of brands deploying Android Auto, check out this list:

[via Audiobooks.com Press Release]

Kung Fury: Street Rage Review

Kung Fury: Street Rage Review

Jul 30, 2015

In case anyone haven’t yet seen Kung Fury, and likes all things badass, I urge you to watch it immediately. It’s on Youtube, and it’s 20 minutes of equal parts hilarious and awesome. A story about a kung fu cop who goes back in time to fight Hitler? I’m no movie critic, but I’m pretty sure it’s better than Citizen Kane. But Kung Fury: Street Rage, a tie-in videogame is not nearly as good.

My expectations for Kung Fury: Street Rage went in a completely opposite direction from the short movie itself. I started watching the movie, being completely certain that it’s going to be a cliched circle-jerk mess. Instead, I got an amazing over-the-top parody of all sings 80-s. So, I got very hyped when I got a chance to review a videogame tie-in, fully expecting it to be a great old-school brawl. Instead, I got a game that has less content than Google Play Install Permissions mini-game. It’s so short that you could fit it in its entirety in a video ad. Kind of like one of those ads that pop-up every other time you lose in Kung Fury: Street Rage.

It wouldn’t matter if the game was lacking content if the actual game was great, but I can’t even say that much. The core gameplay is a very simple brawler, with only two buttons for controls: one makes the player character hit left, and another – right. The game is just an endless amount of enemies running towards the player that need to taste Kung Fury Street Rage 4the knuckle justice. The player needs to kill as many baddies as possible, until they hit him three times. That’s basically it. There are several kinds of enemies, but that’s the whole variety the game has to offer. No combos, weapons, power-ups, levels or skins – nothing. Compared to the amount of content stuffed into the movie, it’s downright insulting. Also, it manages to screw up the only mechanic it has by introducing an irritating delay between pressing a button and the character hitting stuff, making it about as intuitive as playing it with your toes. Sure, the game is free, but those annoying un-skippable ads that show up when you lose a game, make its price a little bit of your humanity.

Overall, Kung Fury: Street Rage is a great disappointment. I honestly wouldn’t mind if it was just some indie project, but getting this after the grandeur that is Kung Fury, makes me sad. If you want to extend your Kung Fury experience, they should rewatch the short movie instead, and don’t bother with this little mess.

Amazon Appstore FAOTD: Castle Doombad

Amazon Appstore FAOTD: Castle Doombad

Jul 30, 2015

There’s still plenty of time to avail oneself of today’s free Amazon Appstore offering, which is Castle Doombad.

Product Description
Dr. Lord Evilstein has kidnapped a princess, and now his evil lair is crawling with do-gooders. In this reverse spin on tower defense it’s your job to defend your home turf from heroes trying to save the day. View your domain from a side-view perspective, placing traps and unleash minions on your unwitting foes to protect the fortress. Touch and drag up and down on the tower to navigate floors. Across three chapters and 45 levels you’ll outwit intruders that attempt to invade your castle from all sides—ladders allowing them entrance on higher floors, underground drills to start on dungeon floors closer to your fair maiden. Keep the princess safely in your clutches and send those heroes cryin’ back to momma.

From Adult Swim Games and Grumpyface Studios who brought you Robot Unicorn Attack!

We had an opportunity to review Castle Doombad last year; the app is usually priced at $2.99.

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[via Amazon Appstore] [Our Castle Doombad Review]

inStream SeptimusB 7 Port USB Charging Station Hardware Review

inStream SeptimusB 7 Port USB Charging Station Hardware Review

Jul 30, 2015

As we like to say, more mobile devices, more problems… power problems to be specific. Even as batteries get better, there is always a need to keep our power units powered.

Yeah, one can plug in a charging peripheral to every outlet at work or at home, but then, one needs to walk all over the place to retrieve them. It’s just better to have all of them in one place, especially for those of us with a healthy helping of OCD.

And then, here comes the wordy inStream SeptimusB 7 Port USB Charging Station.

Alrighty.

The review unit we received contained the unit in its retail packaging. it contains the main unit, power cable, a loose micro-USB cable and documentation. It’s relatively compact, coming in as a symmetrical rectangular cuboid with soft corners. The one side houses the power cable port, as well as a prominent on/off toggle; the opposite end has seven (yep, 7) USB ports and a green LED. Outside monogrammed names and such, the review piece has a hard plastic, white exterior. Officially, it is 4.09 x 3.86 x 1.1 inches and a hair over 7 ounces.

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Usage is easy. Connected to power, and all one needs is a compatible USB charging cord that connects to a smartdevice that needs to be charged, and flick on the power button. The unit boasts a smart charging chip that allows each of the 3A ports to adjust to the charging needs of the device connected to it; this means it should be able to charge the humble FroYo device or the juice-hungry 10-inch powerhouse on demand. In practice, fresh out the box, it did just that.

With regards to organization, the inStream SeptimusB could use some help. Because it doesn’t have any built-in tray or shelf system. This means that when units are attached and being charged, there really aren’t too many ways to keep the whole conglomeration tidy beyond just stacking them on each other. Thus, in some ways, a lot of space is needed, and probably charging cords of different lengths to make it work.

Still, the size is of benefit, and the central power button is a nice touch. Combined aesthetics aside, it’s a piece that definitely holds its own. Tied in with its relative affordability ($39.95 on Amazon), and it’s easy to like it.

Shadow Strike Review

Shadow Strike Review

Jul 30, 2015

Shadow Strike is a somewhat controversial, but pretty high-quality action game for the fans of American military. It’s a game about war drones, and gives the player control over a drone, completing various missions for US military. I wouldn’t want to ignore the elephant in the room, and say that the game feels somewhat dark. I’m not sure if this was the intention of the developers, or it’s simply my own bias showing through, but the game almost feels aware of the themes that it presents. The commanding officer of the player looks just a little too villainous, and the bleak, blue-tinted night-vision screen detaches the player from whatever is happening on the screen so well, you almost don’t want to switch to the regular, full-color mode. I’m certain that I read into the game too much, so if anything, let my weird uncanny feeling be a sort of a compliment to the game’s quality.

The gameplay of Shadow Strike is pretty straightforward: there’s a progression of missions, where the player gets to complete certain objectives, such as destroying aShadow Strike 4 VIP vehicle, protecting a convoy, or simply search-and-destroy, activating and aiming the drone’s weapons systems. If the player completes the main goal, and any of the additional ones, he gets a cash reward and a rank progression. The cash can be spent on upgrading the drone itself, or its weapons. There’s a number of weapons with varying characteristics that can be purchased, or upgraded. Additional systems of the drone include countermeasures that let the player shoot down the enemy RPGs, and armor that can soak up several hits before the drone is destroyed. The game looks good, and sounds good. I didn’t play it long enough to get to the paywall, but insofar, it’s a been pretty sweet ride.

Overall, Shadow Strike is an energetic free-to-play action game that definitely puts some effort into itself. It’s definitely for the fans of everything militaristic. I have no doubts that it already has a bunch of dedicated fans, and since it has some additional content released for it already, that it’s going to last for a while. So, if you like the idea of piloting a war drone and reigning hell on the enemies of the state, this is most certainly a great game for you.

Amazon Appstore FAOTD: Aces Gin Rummy Pro

Amazon Appstore FAOTD: Aces Gin Rummy Pro

Jul 29, 2015

For today, the free app on Amazon Appstore is Aces Gin Rummy Pro.

Get ready for a card game that makes all other forms of entertainment look like deadwood: Aces® Gin Rummy!

The cards are dealt. You pass on the up-card and draw from the stock. Two melds already and you’ve only drawn once! Sort the high cards down and discard that king. Not much deadwood, but if you knock now, you might get undercut. It’s risky either way, but you hang in there, hoping for a spade or a seven.

One more draw…and…GIN!

Cast of Characters

Want to play Gin Rummy against an elegant Victorian skunk? We’ve got you covered. How about a dapper beaver in a collar and waistcoat? You can do that too. With 11 different animated characters to choose from, including a variety of well dressed ladies and gentlemen (and equally well dressed farm animals and robots), our cast of quirky characters will charm the aces out of you.

Gameplay For All Skill Levels

If you’re new to Gin Rummy, don’t worry. The EASY difficulty setting is a great way to ease into the game. If you’re looking for more of a challenge, HARD will have you planning every move and really watching the discards. Whatever your skill level, our adjustable difficulty system has the right setting for you.

Traditional Scoring

Games in Gin Rummy can be customized to be played to 100 (if you’re looking for a quick game), 150, 250 or 300 (if you’d like a game that lasts a bit longer). Scoring follows classic rules with a 100 point bonus for winning, a 20 point bonus for each hand won, and double points for shutting out your opponent!

It’s usually priced at $2.99.

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[via Amazon Appstore]

Zero Punctuation: Hatfall Review

Zero Punctuation: Hatfall Review

Jul 29, 2015

Well…

If one must know, Zero Punctuation: Hatfall is a story of loss and redemption. Sometimes, folks get really attached to headgear, and this game tells the tale of a dude driven mad by loss.

Oh dear.

At first glance, one might be a bit dazzled by the sharp yellow background; we don’t get a lot of colors, but that is okay, as the game works with the color contrasts within. Visually, it works.

The basic premise is uber simple: there are hats falling, and the idea is to position one’s white digital figurine underneath it, as perfectly as possible so that the hat lands on his head. To help accomplish this, there is a marker on the ground that one needs to ensure that our hat hero — let’s call him “Yahtzee” (Well, done, Ben!) — is in the middle of to ensure the had lands on his head. If one is successful, the level is passed, and the player moves on to a subsequent level; failure elicits, well failure, and ones has to restart.

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Now, it’s the way the game eases into difficulty that makes it pretty compelling. The developer craftily adds on elements that add some complexity with regards to getting the job done, and these are usually of a visual nature. For instance, the circular marker that allows the player to know where to position the figure? Yeah, one can find it shrinking in diameter, which can be disheartening when one finds that the figure is not smack dab in the middle. Then, as one progresses, there are other tricks, like other moving figures and markers, which can create a situation where visual acuity is exceptionally important. The tricks and hazards get harder the further that one goes.

Points-wise, it’s a simple game of accumulating hats, and unlocking stuff. It is the consummate arcade thriller, in that it puts a lot of emphasis on hand-to-eye coordination and twitch reaction to pull out. There are subtle variations to the gameplay, and ways to earn free hats, as well as to spend them (on stuff like boosts).

For folks who want a quick challenge that has a clear comedic component, this one does the deed. The side-games alone are worth trying to make the hat thresholds, and it’s perfect for in-house bragging rights contests.

Clandestine: Anomaly Arrives on Google Play

Clandestine: Anomaly Arrives on Google Play

Jul 29, 2015

Clandestine: Anomaly is an interesting mobile game that brings real-life environment locations into the gameplay. Now, it isn’t an iOS-exclusive anymore, as it is now on Google Play.

Features (per Google Play):

• Action-packed location-based tower tactics gameplay, with unique seek-and-destroy mechanics.

• Unparalleled location-based Augmented Reality gameplay: See the battle rage in front of you and seize the moment, obliterating the enemy with powerful airstrikes.

• Battle for your own REAL LIFE 2km x 2km (1.24mi x 1.24mi) neighborhood – the map is your GPS location!

• Immerse yourself in a carefully crafted narrative co-written by best-selling, lauded writer Joshua Ortega (Gears of War 2).

• Experience Clandestine: Anomaly’s striking graphical art style and beautiful cutscenes built upon concept art by Star Wars artist Doug Wheatley, and Darkest Dungeon’s Chris Bourassa.

• Engage in carefully crafted tactical gameplay, guided by Dark Age of Camelot’s lead designer, Lori Hyrup.

• Interact with a cast of unforgettable characters through detailed voice-acted phone calls, text messages and Augmented Reality scenes that put you in the center of the rich and detailed story of Clandestine: Anomaly.

The game is free with in-app purchases.

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NU2S Smartphone Hardware Review

NU2S Smartphone Hardware Review

Jul 29, 2015

There are many reasons folks dabble into Android.

Love of the OS, appreciation for the extended Google ecosystem… even a hyper anti-Apple sentiment get cited as reasons. Critically, one can enjoy the diversity of product as well as as apps availability across carriers.

One element that increasingly becomes part of the device ownership narrative is price; the ability to get a device at just about any price point is, well, priceless. And, to be fair, we are not talking about just anything at any price; we expect quality, even when we pay what might be considered a good price for an Android smartphone. Now, obviously, the ability to have OEMs battle to bring the best devices to market at the lowest cost is a function of the Android landscape, but we’re not complaining.

NUU is a device manufacturer out of Hong Kong that is making waves with its unlocked devices which are now available in North America. We had a chance to formally check out its budget NU2S Android phone, and off the bat, it odes take on the term “value” head on.

The loaner NUU sent us came in standard retail furnishing; in the box, one gets the device, charging cable and adapter, cleaning cloth, screen protector and documentation. In hand, the black NU2S is quite handy, and doesn’t even come close to phablet territory; officially, it comes in at 5.25 x 2.6 x 0.36 inches, and only 4.8 ounces. It comes in the familiar slab style, with a bottom bezel housing capacitive navigation buttons. Up to the top, there is 2MP camera (in addition to the 5MP one at the back), and a 2000 mAh battery.

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It comes with 512 MB RAM and 4GB internal (which can be buttressed with up to 32G of external memory), and packs a quad-core processor. Screen-wise, one gets an IPS screen boasting 960 x 540 ppi. And yes, one gets Android 5.0.

It feels good in hand, slight but not silly, with serious stylings that offset the light materials.

In use, the device works really well. Downloaded applications work smoothly, and the screen is great at full brightness. Phone-wise, the dual SIM is a nice feature, and calls work well on T-Mobile’s network, at still and on the go; no dropped calls, and clarity was great. It worked well to receive calls (we didn’t test two SIMs).

The HotKnot functionality is cool, allowing folks to transfer information by physically touching phones. It has a casting feature built in to the unit.

For folks looking for ALL the bells and whistles, the NU2S might be a tough decision. The screen isn’t as vibrant as what is seen on the major flagships, and the cameras could be sharper. There are not a whole lot of third-party custom accessories that I could find either. The relatively small number of uninstallable stock apps is admirable.

So… in the battle of budget smartphones ($100 on Amazon), this one manages to outperform its financial station. It’s sleek, and easily carries a reasonable portion of the load carried by more renown device heavyweights. In the end, all folks want is a great phone at a great price.

Well, here ya go.

Explorers: Skull Island Review

Explorers: Skull Island Review

Jul 29, 2015

If I were to use a word to describe Explorers: Skull Island, it would be “a product”. Another good one would be “awful”, but that’s a given. Explorers: Skull Island is a generic economic strategy. Actually, no, it’s THE generic economic strategy. The players are in control of some inhumanly ugly shipwreck survivors that are actively living out a story of Tarzan on a seemingly desert island that has nothing to do with skulls. They are so ugly, in fact, that I’m certain that they were merely thrown overboard for looking like a bunch of aliens with a human skin over them.

The player’s job is to clean out the jungle that surrounds the beach and build all kinds of buildings that would help the shipwreck survivors, including hammocks, palm benches, fountains, and a theatrical stage. This game isn’t exactly for fans of survival, is what I’m getting at. The actual mechanics of the game are a pack of free-to-play strategy Explorers Skull Island 3 staples. The player has several resources that he spends to build various constructions, and explore jungle. These resources are coins, strange red liquid, that I’m almost certain is virgin blood, and, even more weirdly, machetes. The resources can be obtained from the resource-gathering buildings, or by exploring the jungle and performing various missions. The game is a never-ending cycle of upgrading your buildings and building new ones, then waiting while these buildings generate resources, and then spend those resources on additional buildings. So, again, nothing new here.

The sub-par, unimaginative quality of the product is so all-consuming that I actively struggle to write another word on Explorers: Skull Island. It’s an all around crappy game that even the fans of this genre should find appallingly dull. So, if this game looks anything but horrible to you, just install one of the older Farmville simulators that at least have a bigger budget and look better.

Unium Review

Unium Review

Jul 29, 2015

Gameplay concepts really don’t get simpler than what we find in Unium.

To play the game is to understand it. The individual puzzles are laid out a bit irregularly, but do condense to one basic concept represented by similar types of layouts. The playing area consists of a bunch of squares, some black, and some white. They are all tightly packed, like the interior of a beehive, and there is a degree of symmetry in the way the black and white combine. Visually, it is very monochromatic, but not unpleasing.

Basically, the idea is to make all the squares one color, which is white; to change the black to white, one needs to draw a line through  the black squares. The kicker is that all the black squares need to have the same, line go through them to solve the puzzle. In other words, one gesture-driven line needs to be drawn through every black square in one motion — while avoiding every white square. No diagonal movements through squares is allowed; one has to navigate through adjacent squares only. If successful, at the end of the puzzle, no black squares will remain.

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So… how hard can it be, really? It’s a simple matter of drawing one, continuous line, right? Well, the increased complexity is derived from the developer’s creativity. As one progresses in the game, one actually needs to think through potential paths, so as to touch every square. The game comes in different levels, each with several levels, and success is needed to open subsequent levels and difficulty. As the game goes on, the puzzles get quite intricate, and it is relatively fun to try to rtrace one’s steps, or make alterations, or even simply restarting the entire puzzle. As one goes, the rules get bent a bit, but hey… why not?

It comes together well, and is a great time waster even while avoiding silly frills. Not bad for a 21st century game, really.

The Hobbit: Kingdoms Of Middle Earth Review

The Hobbit: Kingdoms Of Middle Earth Review

Jul 29, 2015

The Hobbit: Kingdoms Of Middle Earth (or, simply, Kingdoms) is a free-to-play economic strategy, set in the Lord Of The Rings setting. That’s, pretty much, it. It’s a straightforward FTP game, with everything you love (or hate) about the genre. It’s alright, although I’ve seen people complain that it’s somewhat buggy. I didn’t notice any bugs while playing, so they don’t influence the score. Anyway.

I have to say that I don’t have any strong feelings towards The Hobbit: Kingdoms. For the people who don’t know much about Farmville simulators – congrats on your life so far. Still, if you’re interested in this game, it has almost nothing to do with the Hobbit – or Lord Of The Rings, for that matter. It’s just a casual fantasy strategy game, filled with micro-transactions and wait times and surprisingly great graphics. The gist of the game is in management of a fantasy town. The town can be either elven, or dwarvish – the player chooses so at the beginning of the game. The game contains several resources that have to be extracted, using special buildings such as farms and quarries. These The Hobbit Kingdoms 2resources can then be spent on constructing additional buildings, or upgrades for the town’s economy, or army resources. The army is required to wage wars with goblins, rival kingdoms, or to attempt an attack at the legendary Smaug himself. The game has a lot of elements, and they seem to be working rather well together, even if the story and ties to The Hobbit movies seem a little hamfisted. The gameplay is alright, if you’re a fan of the genre. Although for some reason, I think that fans of The Hobbit movies would be alright with a more complex (and not free-to-play) game.

The best part about The Hobbit: Kingdoms is, undeniably, its graphics. The game looks absolutely majestic, the little buildings standing and forces moving about at your command. It’s not revolutionary, but it’s miles better than most of the FTP strategies currently about on Play Store. If anything, the art department surely tried their best here.

Overall, The Hobbit: Kingdoms is probably going to be appreciated by the fans of both Farmville simulators and Lord Of The Rings universe – at the same time, I don’t think that it’s for you if you like only one of those things.

AccuWeather Gets Google Now Functionality

AccuWeather Gets Google Now Functionality

Jul 29, 2015

Popular weather app AccuWeather is getting Google Now compatibility via update:

NEW! AccuWeather content is now also viewable in Google Now.

AccuWeather is free on Google Play; a premium version with more options is also available.

Amazon Appstore FAOTD: Marbles Temple:Zuma Back! 

Amazon Appstore FAOTD: Marbles Temple:Zuma Back! 

Jul 27, 2015

There’s still a few more hours to get today’s free offering on the Amazon Appstore, which is Marbles Temple:Zuma Back! 

Zuma is back, a match 3 color snake game.

The app is usually priced at $0.99.

Tiny Troopers 2: Special Ops Review

Tiny Troopers 2: Special Ops Review

Jul 27, 2015

Simple, fun games like Tiny Troopers 2: Special Ops are just what one needs to make it through that hard stretch in the day. On paper, at least.

The graphical representation is interesting; it is pretty whimsical in nature, with an adjusted top down view, which helps with the controls. Not too much of the landscape is given a way, which serves a purpose with regards to gameplay. The artwork is vivid, with rich colors and a hint of perspective, and the animations are relatively smooth.

As far as the action goes, in this one, the idea is to go out and conquer. As noted, one controls a soldier from up above, tapping on the screen to get the soldier to move to that area. Our little guy is equipped with a gun too, and this is useful against marauding enemy troops, who general shoot in lieu of civil conversation. Each soldier is equipped with a lifebar, so fire fights are really wars of attrition.

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The game evolves into more complex RPG fare as progress is made; the enemy soldiers get smarter with more sophisticated weapons and tactics. To combat this, one needs to collect upgrades and other goodies which help with both survival and lethal efficacy. Things like grenades and missile launchers come into play, and the developer is cogent enough to toss in atypical survival segments to break up any monotony. If all goes well, and the player is able to hold his own, he leads his troops to the rally point, and the level is done; with success comes payouts, and this in-game currency can be used to upgrade gear or recruit new members to the squad, which is a key aspect with regards to going far.

It all comes together as a leveled game presented as missions, with the expected increases in difficulty as one moves on. it is simple, and easy to get into and enjoy.

I think the mechanics of gameplay with regards to grouped squadrons is a bit illogical; some ability to divide and conquer would have been nice.

Still, for an action game, Tiny Troopers 2: Special Ops is a fun adventure.