Mar 5, 2014

LAWLESS is one of those games that appeals to our collective decadent side. It is a game from powerhouse Mobage that is able to combine a few different elements into a neat (but explosive) package.

It is a career crime game, perfect for the straitlaced do-gooders out there. To begin, the player has the option of selecting his/her main character, which is decked out with weaponry and tasked with being good at being bad.

The gameplay is a unashamedly arcade-y in nature; the graphics are made to highlight gunfire and explosions. The natural behavior of the protagonist characters is to duck behind obstacles: corners, upturned vehicles, sofas and such, which are all in the foreground. Further on out, different opponents run into view, looking to destroy the law1player’s crew of misfits. Getting rid of these enemies is done by tapping them on the screen, which makes the shooter(s) pop out from behind cover to fire on them. Red health bars are a measure of life on both sides, and depleting that of the enemy is the name of the game. The game is leveled, with boss baddies making appearances at junctures.

The game incorporates some nice animations to enhance the aforementioned arcade feel. For example, shooters dashing from one end of the screen to the other generally provide a hard target to hit. The powerups — grenades, baby — are another element that adds to the game. The bullet-riddled environments are decently done, and the artwork is sustained indoors and outdoors.

A big element is cash/gold mechanism. They are earned by success, and can be used to buy more weapons, as well as getting more specialized helpers on the team. Facebook can be used to recruit friends, and in-app purchases are available. There is a monthly Live Event feature also.

Call me a wuss, but there is something a bit disconcerting about shooting at LEOs. For all the high-falutin’ action and explosions, the gameplay is often the same, albeit clothed in different looks.

Still, it’s a fun game, with great social portions and a career ladder that would make Al Capone swoon. It’s free to play too.

Turbo FAST Review

Turbo FAST Review

Feb 25, 2014

PIK POK usually spawns interesting games, and as such, having a look at Turbo FAST could hardly be looked upon as an imposition. Loosely based upon DreamWorks movie and television series, it highlights the tale of snails who dare to dream to live a life of speed.

It’s a racing game, and a good portion of the ambiance is based upon the creative prowess of the developer. The snail raceways are quite intricate, and rendered with three lanes of windy, challenging “road.” There are natural slow-down areas, and also boost sections built in. These boost sections are reminiscent of the speed boosts in Mario Kart in placement and functionality. It’s a colorful explosion of color, with fairly believable physics and animations that will have players mentally skidding.

It incorporates different choices with regards to controls: tilting, tapping, virtual joysticks and touch; I like this attention to detail.turbo1

Another key element are the tomatoes that line the raceway. These tomatoes can be collected by contact, and are valuable as they serve in-game cash. The placement of the tomatoes makes for collecting them a bit harder, as more risks need to be taken.

Racing proper is all about beating other jet-pack toting snails while competing in leveled “cups” so as to graduate to higher licenses which allow one to race against tougher competition. This career mode type of gameplay just works, as it allows one to race in chunks. Tomatoes are key, as upgrading equipment and attributes are important with regards to being competitive. There are pre-game boosts that can be bought (like extra speed or opponent inhibitors) and then it’s off to race. The races are quite enjoyable, and some actually end in photo-finishes. Tomatoes earned and accrued benefits are tallied at the end, and winning always provides the best payout.

I like that the game isn’t miserly with the tomatoes; it doesn’t feel necessary to shell out real cash, and the ads show other means of accumulating tomatoes (the game is compatible with Tapjoy). I think the menu is a bit busy, but hey.

All in all, it a solid entry, and has that rare ability to be companion game that encourage folks to watch the movie/show that inspired it.

Good job, PIK POK. Well played.

New Star Soccer Review

New Star Soccer Review

Nov 29, 2013

I’ll be honest: I’m somewhat cynical of soccer sims. It seems most long-term sports management games have been done. Still, it takes a game like New Star Soccer to change my mind, and change my mind it did.

The game provides an abbreviated player development ladder based around The Beautiful Game. It connects gameplay, skill development/career and more into a pretty nice simulation package.

It starts out with the character. Upon launch, the game prompts to create a profile in of the available slots (it’s possible to have more than one on the same device). I like that there is some customization, down to nationality and skin tone. There is a tutorial, and then some skills tests. After this, our newly created player gets to sign a contract with one of the lower teams, and it’s off on the career quest.nss1

On the “home” page, the tabs all but explain the elements that need to be managed: League, Skills, Life and actual Games. Skills are the attributes that can be improved upon by taking mini-challenges. The League measures standings of the team, while Life measures measured intangibles, like our players relationship with teammates, Manager and fans. It also ascribes a value for lifestyle… things like tattoos, vehicles and properties all come ogether and can be improved upon by game bux earned from playing.

The games are quick affairs, with summary excerpts that denote noteworthy plays (including any involving our player; when these do occur, the game uses some fun action sequences). The action starts with the occasional easy pass or shot, which can be accomplished by pulling back on the ball to effect the appropriate power, and releasing in the direction of a teammate or the goal and then “striking” the rolling ball to control spin. As a soccer player, Successful passes and goals yield points which are reflected in bonus payouts and achievements.

The most important element is Energy. to train, or interact with teammates, or anything important, energy is expended. Not having enough reduces playing time and/or relegates the picked player to a substitute status. replacement cans can be purchased with bux or real cash.

I really enjoyed the game. I think some of the menus can be streamlined, and multiplayer functionality would be insanely cool. The graphics are a little rough, but do their job.

But for a fun career sim, this is pretty fun and engaging.