Death Race: The Game Review

Death Race: The Game Review

Jun 19, 2015

If Death Race: The Game evokes Jason Statham, that’s okay. After all, it is based on the major movie of the same name starrring the aforementioned actor. In any case, one can be promised a lot of gunfire, which makes it good enough to review, thank you very much.

Graphics-wise, the game packs a punch. It manages to reflect the source material vividly with the dark tone and decrepit scenery. Everything, from the vehicles to the race environment conveys a feeling of dread and destruction. The sound is equally foreboding, with a judicious use of effects that embolden the gameplay.

And with regards to the gameplay, the game serves as teacher within, giving the basics of how to play as it unfolds. As one would guess, it leans heavily on the originating movie: a major depression causes crime to climb, and eventually private prisoners and, uh, pay-per-view hold sway. Of course we then get something similar to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Running Man: prisoner-based gladiator games. In cars, no less. Heavily armed racing cars.


The controls incorporate tilting and touch, and, interestingly enough, consists of a few elements. Players learn the aiming mechanism, which needs a bit of practice, and other concepts like drifting. The “racing” is 1v1 in beat-down areas, and the idea is to work hard to outlast the competition by reducing that driver’s lifebar to nothingness before the opponent does the same to the player; thus it is a war of attrition. Combat and ramming take front stage; the vehicle moves on its own, and the former requires keeping a steely hand to ensure the weapons are trained right. In Ramming, it’s a matter of quick reflexes, as a decreasing circle measures the amount of damage one inflicts on the opponent. The pieces come on and off until one racer is destroyed.

Performing well allows one to level up and earn game cash, which allows one to get better gear and upgrade vehicle attributes; in many ways, it’s a self-contained adventure that rewards continued action. It doesn’t make the mistake of forcing canon accuracy. It is a lot of the same, but “same” here mostly works because the battles are not too drawn out.

It’s a cool game, with cool backstory, and one cool main dude. Carry on.

XCOM: Enemy Within Review

XCOM: Enemy Within Review

Nov 25, 2014

XCOM: Enemy Within is a standalone expansion to the amazing 2013 game XCOM: Enemy Unknown. It is essentially the same game with a fair few new additions and some refinements that make it a better game.

XCOM: Enemy Within as said above is a lot like Enemy Unknown. It is an in depth turn based strategy game where players take control of XCOM, an anti extraterrestrial organization attempting to fend off a global alien invasion.

Screenshot_2014-11-20-16-40-34Players take control of recruitment, training and research and both air forces and ground forces when the need arises. XCOM couples base building and broad strategic choice with a turn based, squad based combat engine. Aliens completely outgun humanity at the beginning of the game, so developing XCOM’s technologies is a central part of the game. That is the super complex XCOM in a tenuous nutshell.

The main addition of Enemy Within is the Meld. These canisters of orange goop are the key to unlocking a number of powerful new abilities for soldiers. One use of Meld is to upgrade soldiers with genetic implants that can boost their stats or endow them with abilities, like buffing the whole squad after a kill.

The other path for Meld use is to construct a Cybernetics Lab that can transform soldiers into giant, armoured killing machines with heavy weapons.

Both of these are fun and let players boost their favorite soldiers in new and exciting ways. You can do things like have elite ocular enhanced snipers popping aliens or have a MEC lead the way, absorbing all incoming fire while shotgun-wielding pheromone releasing assault soldiers cover it.

There are new enemies like the new Seeker which can cloak itself and strangle soldiers, rendering them helpless unless it is killed or the soldier dies.

Screenshot_2014-11-20-06-46-51A great new addition is medals. Medals can be awarded to any soldier and function as combat buffs. These can do things like raise their stats by completing missions without soldier deaths or cause a soldier to never panic from allied causalities. This is a good idea and helps make soldiers feel even more like individuals.

The game looks about the same as it did before. There are a few new pieces of equipment and some nice new environments, but they are more of what you’d expect from XCOM. Of course Enemy Unknown was an excellent looking game so it’s not like this is a bad thing.

The sound is improved. There are new soldier acknowledgements, speech and new ambient sounds. Sometimes you’ll roll into a sector and hear a nice ambient saxophone playing in the service station as your soldiers trade fire with aliens and plasma bolts reduces parts of the building to rubble. Other than that, the game retains XCOM’s excellent weapon and environment sounds and disturbing alien sounds. Great stuff as always.

XCOM Enemy Within adds a lot of interesting feature to the still fantastic gameplay of the original Enemy Unknown. Players who played the original to death will still find fun in the new features, while strategy fans who missed the game the first time around will be in turn based heaven.

Dungeons Of Evilibrium Review

Dungeons Of Evilibrium Review

Jul 30, 2014

Dungeons of Evilibrium is part exploration, part card battler. Players select a dungeon to enter and begin with the entire area covered with tiles. Tapping a tile removes it and reveals whatever is underneath. This may be money, a chest with an item or a battle. Money and items are used to evolve creatures. Once the player finds the exit they proceed to the next dungeon. This part of Dungeons Of Evilibrium isn’t particularly interesting. Since there is nothing to see in dungeons but random objects that block the player’s path, monsters and chests any excitement to discover the unknown is lost.

Screenshot_2014-07-23-19-49-36Like most games of this type cards can be evolved to strengthen them. This requires certain items and these can be found either by randomly finding them in chests or buying them from the in-game shop using gems, the premium currency. Cards also level up slowly, but this only adds a minuscule amount to their strength.

Dungeons Of Evilibrium’s combat is completely random and doesn’t involve the player at all, save for selecting a target at the start of the battle. Creatures take turns attacking each other depending on their speed and their skills activate (or not) purely by chance. Battles are generally either very easy for the player’s team to beat or impossibly hard.

Screenshot_2014-07-23-20-28-23Since the player has no control over battle and evolving creatures is also completely down to luck, due to items being randomly found, there is no reliable way for the player to strengthen their party. Unfair, impossible to win battles also pop up seemingly at random, which feature much stronger enemies. These battles exist apparently to force the player to use gems to revive their creatures at periodic intervals.

Enemies that are defeated have a chance of being captured. Not only is there only a small chance of a creature being capturable, there is only a small chance of actually capturing the creature unless the player – again – pays gems. A normal capture attempt still costs money and has a small 35% or so chance to get the creature. Getting any creature to even a halfway useful state will require buying gems as well, without enormous amounts of grinding.

Dungeons of Evilibrium doesn’t look good. About the only interesting part of the game is the way cards change as they are evolved. Small cats suddenly transform into panthers and snakes evolve into mini dragons. Combat is a very dull affair involving sprites sliding into each other and the dungeon itself lacks any interesting design.

Dungeons Of Evilibrium is unlikely to last players long. The core idea just isn’t very interesting and the game either plays itself or forces the player to fight unwinnable battles.

Dungeons Of Evilibrium is an extremely disappointing game. It is not enjoyable to play, lacks any interesting gameplay and is loaded with annoying freemium elements. There are far, far more enjoyable card battlers on Android. For a good simple RPG with autocombat try Heroes of Atlan. for card combat try Deadman’s Cross.

Super Battle Tactics Review

Super Battle Tactics Review

Jul 30, 2014

Super Battle Tactics is a strange combination of random combat and tanks. Will it make you armour-ious?

Super Battle Tactics begins with the player acquiring a team of vehicles. These range from big heavy tanks to lighter, faster attacking jeeps and armored cars. New tanks can be bought, but most of the really good ones are locked behind paywalls or are unreasonably expensive.

Screenshot_2014-07-06-06-27-04Combat in Super Battle Tactics is almost entirely luck based. During each round of combat each tank “rolls” a number. That number is how much damage they do and also controls which tank shoots first. The player has several points to spend per turn, which can be used to reroll numbers, call in additional, more powerful attacks, or select a target enemy for their tanks to fire at. When the player ends the turn, the tanks take turns shooting at each other, randomly if the player did not choose a target. The next round then begins and the cycle repeats. The player to have all their tanks reduced to twsited smoking hunks of metal first loses.

Screenshot_2014-07-06-08-53-17Ultimately, for a game named after battle tactics Super Battle Tactics doesn’t have much in the way of them. The random nature of combat and the lack of skill needed to play make it more an exercise in luck based gaming than anything strategic. The only tactical; thing in the game is basic stuff like selecting targets.

A major problem with Super Battle Tactics is its thoroughly broken matchmaking. The game seems to either always match the player with someone who is much stronger than they are or someone much weaker, leading to either instant death or a kerb stomp battle. This is very frustrating. There is no single player mode, so the broken matchmaking is just something the player has to put up with.

Super Battle Tactics is packed with microtransactions. From whole new tanks, to parts for existing tanks and even chances to get parts for tanks from crates, get ready to pay and pay often for any chance at success. The game also uses an energy system which is very slow. About 5 matches an hour is the limit. There is no real way to properly play Super Battle Tactics without paying real money.

Super Battle Tactics looks decent enough. There are plenty of colourful tanks to choose from and an interesting game show based presentation adds a bit of flair. The sound is pretty decent as well and guns sound nice and punchy.

Super Battle Tactics is beset by issues and relies heavily on a pay to win mentality. With little fun on offer, there is little reason to play Super Battle Tactics.

Heroes of Atlan Review

Heroes of Atlan Review

Jul 22, 2014

Heroes of Atlan is a new demon slaying tactical adventure. Does it stand out from the recent flood of entries in this genre?

Heroes of Atlan is a tactical RPG in its purest form. The player takes no active role during combat. Instead, the player is relegated to equipping their team and positioning them to support each other. Unlike most RPGs of this type, there is absolutely no way to influence a fight once it begins; it’s all about the planning. Battles are short enough that they don’t drag on and the cool monster designs and decent animations make watching battles fun. Like any RPG, it is always satisfying seeing upgraded equipment or boosted levels turning the tide of battle.

Screenshot_2014-07-11-15-08-54A great thing about Heroes of Atlan is that it has an actual story. There is plenty of dialogue to read and some surprising moments. Nearly every battle has some interesting pretence to it and there is a real feeling of the kingdom galvanizing behind the player.

Heroes of Atlan uses a map based system where energy is expended to enter each battle. After winning a battle, the player earns experience and cash and moves onto the next battle. Previous battles can be replayed for more loot. As long as the player tempers their equipment and so on the difficulty is quite reasonable. Heroes of Atlan also includes a PvP arena, but it is filled with very high level players. Combat is completely hands off, just like single player so it really comes down to a pay to win scheme; the player with the best equipment will always win.

Upgrading equipment in Heroes of Atlan can be accomplished in two ways. First there is Tempering, which is a cheap, immediate boost to an item’s stats. This only requires money. Crafting is much more complicated and involves using a wide range of reagents to change an item’s form. Reagents take time to hunt down, but crafting makes equipment much more powerful. Once an Item has been crafted, it can be tempered all over again and the cycle starts anew.

Screenshot_2014-07-11-14-30-00Heroes of Atlan looks decent. Presented in a bright, colourful 2-d style the game features pretty nice character design and there are always new enemy types to see. The animation is fairly primitive, but the graphics aren’t really relevant to a game of this genre. Cool looking characters are just a bonus. The sound is likewise middle of the road. The music gets rather repetitive and there is no voice acting or even battle cries.

Heroes of Atlan is a pretty fun tactical RPG, at least in single player. While its lack of control and obvious freemium-based multiplayer might annoy some players it tells a good story and there is enough game here that gamers will keep gaming for a long time.

Evolution: Battle for Utopia Review

Evolution: Battle for Utopia Review

Jul 15, 2014

Evolution: Battle For Utopia is an interesting mix of small scale combat, exploration and base building. Is it a gaming utopia?

The combat portion of Evolution: Battle for Utopia is actually very robust. Attacking is handed automatically and the player can select a target. After every few shots the player must reload and this can be sped up with a well-timed tap Often one enemy will have a crosshair over them and attacking these targets will dish out more damage. Human enemies shoot back and glow red when they are about to allowing the player a second to duck behind a shield with a swipe before the lead starts flying. Incoming grenades also need to be tapped on to avoid them detonating in the player’s midst. There is a lot to do during combat and the mechanic for picking targets and taking cover make it feel like a real gunfight, which is impressive. Picking targets is important as some enemies are far more powerful in melee and must be dropped fast while human soldiers need to be taken out one by one to cut down on the number of people shooting.

Screenshot_2014-07-15-07-35-24Beside combat, there is a map based mode where dialogue and exploration take place. This is well done. Base building is done in typical freemium style with timers a plenty and many buildings to construct and tech to research. The graphics are noticeably poorer than the combat here and buildings are just dull, static blocks. The base building isn’t very satisfying and there are very few building types. This is in stark contrast to the cool combat segments. The game does have an interesting story which helps push it along.

Screenshot_2014-07-13-07-43-39Of course, as is common with mobile gaming, freemium comes along to ruin any fun the game might have had. The game’s difficulty shoots up extremely quickly after the first few missions and resource generation is a slow, plodding affair that requires logging in constantly to tap on buildings. Combat goes from fun and doable to tough and failing a battle once locks that battle away for 20 hours. Twenty hours. Missions can only be attempted if the player has sufficiently long range helicopters to reach them and this generally means that failing 1 or 2 battles can prevent the player from playing the game at all for the better part of a day. The tragic part is that if this was a premium game without paywalls it would be absolutely worth playing. The gameplay is satisfying and unique.

Multiplayer is a bit of a joke as well. Pay to win is the rule in Evolution: Battle for Utopia. The matchmaking system seems flawed as well; every multiplayer battle I ran into was against much higher level opposition.

Evolution: Battle For Utopia looks great, sounds great and has a lot of varied gameplay styles. As a whole it is very in depth for a mobile game. Unfortunately, some terrible freemium features and some very long timers really go a long way towards killing the game.

Finder’s Keep Review

Finder’s Keep Review

Jun 30, 2014

Finder’s Keep is another dungeon crawling, monster bashing, loot fest in the vein of similar games. Will it loot your free time?

Finder’s Keep is, as hinted by its puntastic name a dungeon crawler. The player is thrust into a dungeon with lousy equipment and fights a series of increasingly disturbing monstrosities to gain power experience and loot in the shape of larger items to stab or avoid being stabbed with. The game uses a simple top-down view for dungeon exploration. The dungeon is shrouded in mist until the player explores it and stumbles upon treasure or combat.

Screenshot_2014-06-24-12-33-15Combat is a very simple affair. The player can unleash standard attacks, a far more powerful but less accurate attack called a haymaker or assume a defensive stance. The game tells the player what the monster is planning to do next and this introduces a modicum of strategy as the player has to react correctly to avoid being pummeled into paste, such as blocking when the monster winds up for a devastating attack. Monsters are often weak to a certain kind of damage, such as crushing and resistant to others so using the right weapon is important.

Unfortunately, Finder’s Keep critically lacks gameplay depth. While the game looks pretty, it just has no skill or interesting gameplay. The dungeons all look the same and are very short and mindless. There is never anything to do except fight monsters and occasionally combine one item with another. There is nothing wrong with simple games, but other simple but effective games like Faif have a gameplay hook and actually require more than dumb luck. Finder’s Keep does not.

Screenshot_2014-06-24-17-25-16Battles are exceedingly dull affairs which are based almost entirely on chance. If the player runs into a too tough monster, there is nothing to be done except to grind until better equipment is found. If the battle system causes the player to miss a lot, they’re dead. If the player fails to find a certain kind of weapon due to random chance and runs into a resistant monster there is nothing for it but to grind constantly until one is found. The gameplay never evolves and the limited size of the player’s inventory is a constant annoyance. A slight redeeming feature is the game’s sense of humor; there is some funny dialogue here and there.

Finders Keep doesn’t look that great either. Monster design is unimaginative, there are too many palette swaps and the creatures aren’t very interesting. There is some nice graphics for equipment however.

Finder’s Keep does have a little replay value due to the copious amount of loot to be had. Most trips to the dungeon will reward the player with new items so they can get just that little bit stronger. The gameplay never changes and the lack of even the slightest bit of strategy dooms the game to a short shelf life.

Finder’s Keep is perhaps worth a game or two and its dungeons are bite sized so it’s great for killing a few minutes.

Soul Fjord for Ouya Review

Soul Fjord for Ouya Review

Jan 28, 2014

Soul Fjord, from Kim Swift’s Airtight Games, her being known for helping design Portal, has been anticipated on the Ouya as one of its exclusives that could help justify the platform. After all, Towerfall remained the best reason to have an Ouya for all these months. Soul Fjord comes to the plate with a concept that’s almost too cool: a beat ’em up with roguelike elements with rhythm-based combat that’s set in a hybrid blaxploitation and Norse mythology universe. It just doesn’t quite live up to it.

Soul Fjord has players controlling Magnus Jones, a righteous dude who dies, goes to Valhalla to party in the afterlife, but gets rejected by a no-good doorman. So, he has to fight his way back up Yggdrasil to get into Valhalla by force. It won’t be easy, as every time he fails, he returns to the beginning of his quest with no gold, and only the items that were bound to his soul.

The combat is a combo-based hack ‘n slash system: there’s two attack buttons and a block button that can be timed to enemy attacks or used to dodge. There’s also a rhythm bar below Magnus on screen, and players must time their attacks and blocks to this rhythm bar to do maximum damage, with critical attacks and enemy stuns possible by timing to this meter.


The key problem with Soul Fjord to a great degree is that mixture of the rhythm and beat ’em up elements. When facing an enemy one-on-one, the rhythm parts work great, as there’s a great flow to the combat. When fighting groups of enemies, or ones that move around a lot, that’s where the combat breaks down and stops being much fun. Keeping track of not just the rhythm meter, but also who’s attacking and from where is just tricky. As well, the items, which provide helpful boosts, can be tricky to discern their effect from just the icon alone.

The controls could use some remapping – having the top Y button serve as the critical attack button can throw one off, because it’s such an extended stretch of the thumb that it throws off my rhythm, at least. If it was set to B, it would work better. Having to switch items with the d-pad and trigger with the shoulder buttons just feels odd. A game so focused on rhythm should be consciously avoiding breaking the player’s mental rhythm.

Soul Fjord is free-to-play, and surprisingly – if not exceedingly – fair in doing so. A coin doubler can be had at launch for 20 records, the game’s hard currency, and that’s a $1.99 IAP to get enough, or even just playing a bit in the game to collect them. Records being attainable through actual play feels good. As well, the chests which contain special items are a good bargain, as they usually contain very good items and they will remain upon death if equipped – normally, this costs 5 records, and the chests are usually 7. The one thing the game’s lacking that would both improve player satisfaction and monetization would be a revive feature: I know I would spend some records to continue some of my runs.


Soul Fjord dreams big, with its groovy theme and unique idea mixture, it just doesn’t quite pay off. It’s a free download for Ouya owners, and is worth at least that, but it may prove to be more frustrating than groovy.

Injustice: Gods Among Us Review

Injustice: Gods Among Us Review

Dec 4, 2013

While mobile users are always calling for console and PC games to make their way onto their phones or tablets, one must be careful what they wish for. Not every type of game can make the seamless transition from a console or computer onto the touch screen of your Android device. Fighting games especially don’t have the best transition to mobile, with Injustice: Gods Among Us being no exception to this.

It’s not to say that Injustice is a bad game on mobile. But if you are looking for the mobile version to be anything like what the console experience gives players, you will be sorely disappointed. The game devolves into nothing more than a button mashing experience, with very little variety in the attacks and moves your meta-humans can perform. The only variance is the super attacks, which can only be performed when the power meter is filled.


Likewise, the mobile version of Injustice also lacks the story line that’s contained within the console version of this game. This leaves Injustice just feeling like another fighting game. Additionally, all battles are 3-on-3, not the 1 versus 1 fights that you’d see from the regular version. This leaves some very interesting pairings of characters, mixing villains and heroes alike in an interesting usage of the CCG model within a fighting game. But with a lack of plot, it doesn’t matter all that much.

Fans of both DC Comics and the console iteration of Injustice will also notice some key characters missing from the mobile versions. Among them, Aquaman, Hawkgirl, Killer Frost, and a couple of others. You will notice however, that the mobile version has included powerups for purchase for the various characters, including for some, companions who boost that particular character’s stats. For example, Poison Ivy is a stat boost for Harley Quinn, though the botanical super villainess herself does not appear as a playable character.


Yet another complaint many users may have is that this rendition of the popular DC Comics fighting game is a free to play title. While no one will be hindered in the game by not spending any real world money, it will take some time and dedication to earn enough in game currency to unlock more popular characters, such as Superman or Batman. Playing the game and defeating enough tiers will also unlock characters, using them to reward the player, rather than forcing them to purchase every hero they’d want to use.

Despite its shortcomings, the Android version of Injustice: Gods Among Us serves as a great companion game to the console version, and should not be considered a direct port. While the iteration playable on phones and tablets falls short in many of the features that console game gives players, it nonetheless both enhances the console game, by linking your WB account with your mobile device and gaming console, as well as giving players bonuses within the mobile version for having played Injustice on the Xbox 360 or PS3. As far as playing the game on its own though, players will eventually grow tired of the repetition, probably not sticking with the mobile version unless they’re dedicated to rising up the ranks on their console.

Injustice: Gods Among Us Bursts Its Way onto Android

Injustice: Gods Among Us Bursts Its Way onto Android

Nov 25, 2013

One of the biggest console titles to come out this year, Injustice: Gods Among Us, has finally hit the Google Play store after enjoying a ton of success as a free to play title on the iOS App Store.

Much like its Apple equivalent, the Android version of Injustice features a collectable card mechanic as well as tap screen game controls to get your favorite DC heroes and villains to fight one another.

Injustice: Gods Among Us, brought to you by the creators of Mortal Kombat, is now available as a free to play title on most Android devices. Android users, if you ever wanted to see who’d win between Harley Quinn and Wonder Woman, here is your chance.

Battle Command Review

Battle Command Review

Nov 25, 2013

Battle Command, now on Google Play thanks to the fine folks at Spacetime Games, is a little piece of nostalgia bundled with some great graphics. This title feels like an old throwback to the days of the first StarCraft game, back before the days of legitimate internet multiplayer. It’s a title that involves a little fortress building, a tiny bit of tower defense, resource management and of course, wanton destruction.


There’s lots of opportunities to fight things, deploy combat and be a rough and rugged commander in Battle Command. For starters, there is the single player campaign, which pits the player against a series of challenges against an evil despot. There’s also a PvP and “War Games” (test out the defenses of your own base by attacking it) options, should single player bore one. However, the PvP itself doesn’t warrant a “true” multiplayer experience, instead finding yourself attacking someone’s base with whatever defenses they’ve set up, but not their actual input or soldiers to change the tide of battle.

Still, Battle Command is a highly entertaining mobile take on such games as StarCraft, where strategy and resource management come into play. This title however, is also free to play, meaning there is in-game currency that can either slowly be earned through grinding or purchased for a reasonable rate. These purple crystals, or whatever it is they are, allow players to speed up production of buildings and units.


From a graphics standpoint, Battle Command is a pretty impressive game. It doesn’t have the most intense graphics, but this title is illustrated a little more serious than other war games like Rubicon’s Little War Game or similar battle strategy titles. Battle Command in general takes itself a little more serious all around, though it isn’t extremely heavy or gritty either; this title finds the perfect balance in its tone.

Battle Command is a highly entertaining title which plays a lot like games such as Starcraft. Players will reminisce about the original Blizzard title while engrossed in the awesome battle gameplay that Spacetime Games has given folks on mobile devices. While there isn’t a strong multiplayer element to this title, the rest of the game will suck players in, having them scream for more as they come back time and time again for more battles to command.

Battle Command! Bombards The Google Play Store Today

Battle Command! Bombards The Google Play Store Today

Nov 13, 2013

Generals! Start your war machines! SpaceTime Games (Battle Dragons, Arcane Legends) has unleashed their battle simulation game, Battle Command! on to Google Play today.

Here’s some of the stellar features this title has:

  • Deep Strategy – More than 20 offensive units and 10 defensive weapons, each with its own strengths and weaknesses
  • Diplomacy – Ally with other players to station troops in each other’s territories for defense, share resources and improve build times
  • War Games – Refine defensive and offensive tactics by practicing assaults on your base, with no loss of troops
  • Substantial Content – More than 25 single player missions and never ending multiplayer fun
  • True Cross Platform Gaming – iOS and Android gamers play on the same server