NBA 2K15 (Fire TV) Review

NBA 2K15 (Fire TV) Review

Jan 19, 2015

In many ways, Amazon Appstore-exclusive NBA 2K15 is the perfect measure of the Amazon Fire TV.

At first glance, the graphics look great; cycling through the opening menu and such reveals glossy slides and bright, reddish tabs. The menu is quite responsive to the Fire Controller, with little hint of lag.

The menu is surprisingly sparse; one can create a player, and after that, the choices are Options, Controller, Quick Game and MyCareer. I was admittedly a bit dismayed that there isn’t yet a practice or training section, but there are two sections listed as upcoming: Season and Blacktop.

I swallowed my disappointment and hit up Quick Game; this gives the player the opportunity to go right into a game consisting of any two NBA teams. All teams are ranked, with San Antonio Spurs occupying the top spot (and understandably so). After selecting teams, the game goes into a simple, real-feeling presentation loop, and then gives a glitzy rendering of the starting lineups for each squad. After a perfunctory pregame ritual (where is the LBJ chalk toss?), the default 24-minute game begins.

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It took a little while for me to get used the control set. I wasted time looking for what I felt would be standard: the ability to remap the controls, but that feature isn’t there. The default set isn’t too bad, but to refer to how they are mapped, one has to exit the game, which isn’t optimal. With a little practice, it is possible to make natural looking movements and actions.

In any case, I enjoyed playing the game on the controller. The developer did a good job with the game engine, and the design is great. The crowd is active, if sparse, and it mostly feels like a real NBA game. The different stadiums look authentic, and the game feel is realistic. Individually, I like the player characterizations. Kobe takes control at the end of games, Timmy D is Mr Fundamental, the Clippers have an affinity for the alley-oop, and Kevin Durant is, well, Kevin Durant. This piece is superb. Watching no look passes or players dive out to get a ball underscore the best part of the game.

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The little pieces are nice too: half time highlights, game summaries, replays and the overall achievement system are great.

Back to graphics… they are okay, as noted, but I can’t shake the feeling that they could be better. The animations feel stilted at times, and this isn’t always concealed behind the fantastic “camera” work and auto plays. The players are recognizable, and scale of relative size is maintained, but there were glitches that occurred, like periodical loss of crowd noise and the game freezing during free throws.

The game does have room to grow, but feels like a decent catch now, and is even fuller with the controller. It can be enjoyed without, yes… but why would one want to? This is one game that is definitely enhanced by the Fire TV system, and is fine if one is able to avoid comparing it too closely with the console version.

Civilization Revolution 2 Review

Civilization Revolution 2 Review

Nov 18, 2014

The original Civilization Revolution was a flawed game with a bad interface and rather lopsided battles. It was saved mostly by its multiplayer and the fact that it was civ on mobile. Now Civilization Revolution 2 is upon us. Does it fix any of the original’s problems?

Screenshot_2014-11-15-01-54-22Civilization Revolution 2 like the other games in the series tasks the player with taking a civilization like Russia or the Aztecs though history and building them up from a few scattered hunter gather types to a wondrous civilization of the future, either crushing all rivals or simply proving their superiority to such a degree that the entire world falls under their control.

To do this the player creates cities and armies and researches new technology to unlock new buildings or units that can be used to defeat rivals or push the borders of your empire outwards with your cultural might, eventually simply absorbing other cultures under your enlightened rule.

Compared to its PC brethren, Civilization Revolution 2 loses a lot of depth. Terrain improvements are gone as is any real diplomacy. Enemy civs are kind of stupid and often don’t seem to research much of anything or keep up with technology. The complete lack of any multiplayer features further exacerbates the shortcomings of the AI.

The interface, while simple isn’t terribly intuitive. There is no world map, which can make it difficult to work out just who owns what. The diplomacy screen doesn’t even tell you who you’re at war with! Civilization Revolution 2 feels very dumbed down. There are some positive interface elements however, like the way the player can set a destination for a unit and it will move each turn. The Civilopedia works well too and is an interesting read.

Screenshot_2014-11-15-01-25-06Civilization also presents an air of immaturity. World leaders are clichéd, wildly gesturing oddballs, spies look like superheroes, the dialogue is often very silly and it is hard to take Civilization Revolution 2 seriously as a strategic game when it insists on unfunny jokes and animations. Sure other games like Great Little War Game and Romans in My Carpet! are less than serious as well, but CR2 seems to err on the side of annoying and silly, rather than amusing.

An old problem with Civ is its random battles. Civilization Revolution 2 is no exception Watch as catapults get mysteriously killed off by half dead archer units and warriors run up and kill defending archers. The civilization games are famous for this kind of idiotic combat and the fact that’s it still hasn’t been fixed after two decades is a bit ridiculous. It was about the time one enemy archer unit in a city defeated a catapult, two legion armies (six units) a unit of my own archers and two units of knights one after the other that I wondered how the game was released in this state.

Civilization Revolution 2 at least looks pretty nice. Bright 3d graphics add some flair, although they may be too cartoony to some compared to the original CRs more restrained graphics. The sound is nicely done as well with some good musical stings and solid combat and movement sounds.

Civilization Revolution 2 is a mixed bag of shoddy battle mechanics and missing features. It might be fun for casual fans of strategy, but the vast amount of better games on Android, like Ravenmark or Great little War Game dim its appeal a bit.


2K Games Updates Sensei Wars with Dynasty War Mode and More Content

2K Games Updates Sensei Wars with Dynasty War Mode and More Content

Apr 7, 2014

2K Games has announced that their mobile strategy game Sensei Wars has received an update adding new content and features. The big feature is the new Dynasty War mode, where players can join and fight rival dynasties to get exclusive rewards, along with bonus content. New buildings and defenses are available, along with new defenses, upgrades, and a global chat feature. The update is available now on Google Play.

Sensei Wars Review

Sensei Wars Review

Dec 31, 2013

Sensei Wars looks to shake up the stale city builder genre with a few innovations. Does it differentiate itself from the recent glut of wannabe Clash of Clans games?

Sensei Wars differs a great deal from other city builders in that you are given a leader or Sensei to lead your town. This warrior is the only one that can be directly controlled in combat and his skills and strength make him a vital part of gameplay.

Screenshot_2013-12-20-23-33-53A sensei can pick from three schools of skills that make him better at attack, defence or healing. This also affects what skills he can learn. For example, an army might have either a tough hero that rushes into combat with the men, or one that isn’t as strong, but heals everyone around him, giving the whole army more staying power. This is a fantastic idea and really opens up the game’s tactical options.

While the sensei is very useful, a large part of Sensei War’s gameplay still revolves around building a thriving town, recruiting a big army and crushing your enemies. Mines and farms produce resources that can be spent on upgrades for your buildings or troops. Troops come in many flavours from the basic melee Monk to tough samurai and swift archers.

Screenshot_2013-12-20-15-21-16Sensei Wars looks excellent, with some stand out animations. Combat looks frenzied and even the most basic units ooze personality. Your sensei also looks great in combat as he walks around smacking enemies and there are tons of little details like how you see children skipping around the town and farmers labouring away in their fields that make you feel more like you’re building a bustling town of warriors. Sensei Wars has some of the best graphics I’ve seen in a freemium game of its type.

The sound is similarly impressive. The roar of battle sounds good and there’s plenty of loud melee sounds to give combat some feeling.

Unfortunately the stink of freemium is strong in Sensei Wars and tries its hardest to ruin what would otherwise be a great game. Timers are everywhere and some of them are incredibly long. The game is so rich and deep that spoon feeding it to the player at such a glacial pace is very frustrating and will turn many off the game.

Sensei Wars is very similar to games like Clash of Clans and Total Conquest, but avoids being a soulless clone by the merits of its unique sensei system and amazing amount of personality. It’s worth checking out if you like your city building with a strong dose of RTS and role playing.

NBA 2K13 Review

NBA 2K13 Review

Jun 7, 2013

While the NBA season is winding down with the NBA Finals (Editor’s Note: That will hopefully end with the San Antonio Spurs crushing the Miami Heat), with basketball simulations, the season does not ever have to end. This is why NBA 2K13, the port of the ever-popular console basketball game for Android devices, is potentially such a breath of fresh air.

The actual graphics are, in a word, fantastic. The definition is superb, and there is a clear flair added. Movements nba5are fairly realistic, with special care given to adequately replicate basketball movements. The background scenery was impressive, with exacting care seemingly paid to different NBA arenas. The animations are good as well; I especially like the little things, such as the ubiquitous daps given between free throws. The replay sequences are nice, and even the entertainment/timeout clips looked believable.

It was also nice to see the players look like their real life counterparts. Players were pared down to scale, so it was clear who say, Tony Parker is when compared to Tim Duncan.

The game comes in three play modes: Practice, Multiseason and Practice, all fairly self-explanatory. Outside of that, there are also some cool challenges in the name of Greatest Games, where you play as an NBA legend and try to match stats from an iconic game he played in, like Shaq’s 63-pointer against the Celtics, or Iverson’s first triple double against the Clippers. This section is adding more legendary players, which is great.

The gameplay itself is extremely fun, with a fun game engine and intuitive optional controls (either virtual d-pad or gestures). The d-pad came with buttons on the right to control offensive and defensive actions. Difficulty is based on level chosen; there are five levels to pick from, ranging from Rookie to Hall of Fame. I didn’t get an opportunity to try the bluetooth multiplayer, but it is a great feature on paper.

I thought that the practice mode could have been significantly better refined; it is a bit bare with regards to learning defensive sets. Also, cool as the graphics were, there were a circulated frame or two. I also hope to controller support down the line.

I think it is an incredibly exciting game that wonderfully brings console-level gameplay to mobile devices.