Real Boxing Throws Update Haymaker

Real Boxing Throws Update Haymaker

Aug 8, 2014

I didn’t think very much of Real Boxing back when I reviewed it but EA have at least pledged to improve the game’s rather unbalanced bouts with a new combo system added in their most recent update. The new combo feature allows players to chain up to nine hits in a row during matches, which may or may not improve the game’s poor take on boxing. A new social feature known as Social Planet also makes an appearance, although details on this are rather light. Lastly a daily spin feature similar to that found in other freemuiem games allows players to win in-game currency among other things. Fans of Real Boxing will doubtlessly enjoy the new update.

Dungeon Keeper Review

Dungeon Keeper Review

Feb 3, 2014

Dungeon Keeper, the venerable series of PC games has waited around 20 years for a sequel. Does Android deliver?

Dungeon Keeper doesn’t really play anything like the original series. In the original DK the player built a dungeon from the ground up. Digging to portals on the map caused different creatures to visit the dungeon depending on what amenities the player had.

Screenshot_2014-02-01-09-31-04Once the dungeon was ticking over, tough bands of adventurers and warriors would arrive to destroy your evil base. A combination of clever dungeon design and tough creatures was needed to defeat them. After a few defeats, the lord of that level would arrive and once he was dead the player won the level. The game was full of funny dialogue, dark passages and genuinely evil looking creatures to use and really felt villainous.

Dungeon Keeper Android is a Clash of Clans clone dressed up like a Dungeon Keeper game. Rooms are built and units are trained up just like Clash of Clans. Your minions don’t move from their rooms and rather than heroes attacking your dungeon battle involves heading to other dungeons and attacking their monsters. This kind of monster on monster combat is nothing like the original game. The player just drops their monsters into the dungeon and since there is nearly no choice of unit there is no strategy to battle.

Screenshot_2014-02-02-09-37-37DK is loaded with timers. By far the most annoying one is the wait time to dig out blocks of rock to create space to build things. There are hundreds of blocks to be mined out and a lot of them take either 4 hours or 24 hours to mine. Most of the time gameplay in DK consists of logging in, tapping on 2 or three blocks then closing the app since there is nothing else to do. Prices are very high. The most expensive IAP costs $99 and gives enough gems to mine out a few dozen blocks.

Dungeon Keeper’s graphics are nothing like the actual DK series. Bright hallways, cutesy hearts and cute bright green trolls abound. This version of DK looks like it was designed by somebody who has never played the series before. Gone are the dank, dark hallways and gross giant beetles and flies to be replaced by cartoony visuals that lack any sort of personality. The sound is also seriously lacking.

From the descriptions above it should be obvious that one of the biggest failures of this version of Dungeon Keeper is actually being a DK game. Minions just have no character to them the gameplay is totally different and the game lacks the darkly hilarious and super bloody feeling of the original.

In the end there is no reason to play this game. It isn’t really a Dungeon Keeper game and its timers are oppressive. Rather than buying this it would be a much better idea to purchase the original game from for $6. It is much, much more fun and doesn’t ask for more money.

Supreme Heroes: Card RPG Review

Supreme Heroes: Card RPG Review

Sep 30, 2013

Have you ever wanted to be a superhero? Dashing in to rescue innocents and thwart evil in the nick of time? If so, you’re in luck as EA has released Supreme Heroes, a card based RPG that casts you as an up and coming hero ready to join the big leagues.

You begin Supreme Heroes by creating your hero. Once you’ve dressed him in Screenshot_2013-09-30-14-07-53something more heroic than the starting track pants, you’ll be able to start mutating abilities.

Everything in Supreme Heroes is signified by cards. When you want to teach your hero a new ability you buy a card pack and hope you’ll get an ability card. While there are many different abilities, they aren’t unique, and they don’t really serve much of a purpose.

Ability cards, despite their fancy flavour text and images simply boost your stats by a certain amount in combat. There are no elements to think about or debuffs or anything you might expect an RPG to have. This is a real let down considering how cool a lot of the abilities sound. It’s worth playing the game just to read some of the amusing descriptions of your abilities.

Screenshot_2013-09-29-15-39-41When in battle the amount of cards you can use to boost your stats is capped. To get around this cap you can mutate abilities. Mutating is essentially fusing two abilities together to make a different, hopefully stronger one or fusing several ability cards of the same type together to make the effects stronger. Fusing the cards means that you need fewer cards to achieve the same or better effect, so you can stay under your hero’s card cap.

You can also gain new pieces of equipment for your hero. These range from magic rings to different sets of arms and legs. Like abilities they only boost your stats and do not affect battle otherwise.

Lamentably all this neat stats boosting proves to be for nothing when you realize how exceedingly dull the rest of the game is.

Supreme Heroes sets up missions for your character to complete, such as defusing Screenshot_2013-09-29-09-28-39a bomb, fighting a rival hero or stopping a robbery. Too bad you never actually do any of these things, Missions consist of tapping on a button while you increment a bar that shows your progress in the mission. There is no skill or strategy involved. It hardly qualifies as gameplay. The only fun part of the missions is the story that goes with them as you get plenty of background on what happens before and after missions.

During a few missions you will also enter 1 on 1 combat with other heroes or villains. Unfortunately the combat is just as dull as the missions. You simply watch as two sprites take turns trying to hit each other, complete with corny 50’s style “pow” and “wham” sound effects. The one with the best stats will nearly always win and there is just no fun to be had in this mode.

Graphically SH is quite unimpressive. The game goes for a comic book look with 2d drawings and such, but the art is not very good and a lot of the heroes you fight are more than a little silly looking. The game’s interface is tolerable.

Soundwise the game is nearly non-existent. Generic heroic music plays throughout the game and the only other sounds in game are beeps and thuds during combat and fusing cards. Very underwhelming to say the least.

Supreme Heroes is certainly not worth playing, besides maybe to read the ability descriptions and the game’s story. The lack of actual gameplay in the game and the pervasive In app purchases really make it a game best avoided.

The Simpsons Tapped Out Review

The Simpsons Tapped Out Review

Mar 22, 2013

The Simpsons is a national institution. It embodies everything so wrong — and right — with our family units. Long before South Park, The Simpsons made us gasp in horror and rueful self-recognition. Thus, for anyone who grew up in that era, The Simpsons Tapped Out should be a welcome trip to yesteryear.

Homer is definitely Homeric in this game. Inexplicably, he is still the safety inspector at Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, and, as we all came to expect, his incompetence (and apparent love of goofing around on a tablet) finally destroyed Springfield. My job was to manage this construction simulation game and rebuild Springfield, as well as find the other eponymous members of the Simpson clan.

The tutorial can best be described as quite thorough. It includes an interesting opening cutscene that I actually enjoyed; it reproduced Homer’s safety console novelty. I then learned how to build and recreate stuff using the resources that I had.

For folks that have played any of EA’s Sims games, a lot of the gameplay will feel familiar. I built properties, found other characters, completed tasks and also spurred cash-garnering activities for the characters. A lot of the activities matched the well-known characterizations of the main players. I liked that Lisa could read a book, or that Apu could go into work extra. There was a lot of personality built into the game engine, and the developers capitalized on the built-in storylines quite effectively. Even allowing Homer to slack off watching endless TV marathons had a ring of believability to it.

Different activities had different payouts, so there were opportunity costs to consider. There were also completion times to consider. The dialogue was funny without being smarmy. The game has in-app purchasing to expedite speed of play, but I was able to play without paying. Donuts were real commodities in this game.

I thought the game ran the risk of becoming monotonous at times; I also think that some tasks could be expedited.

Still, for true fans of the series, the faithful reproduction of the graphics will be especially sweet, especially when viewed with the rest of the package. It looked like the original, down to Homer’s lumbering gait. In this case, familiar is very, very welcome.


The Sims FreePlay Review

The Sims FreePlay Review

Mar 6, 2012

I remember the first time I played The Sims, back in the early 2000’s. I’d kind of missed the big wave of obsession over it, but decided to try it out anyway. I enjoyed it a fair bit, but managed not to get addicted (though I could completely understand how it would be easy for others to do so). I was less interested in building homes for my Sims than I was in playing puppet-master with them. I enjoyed creating their relationships and frustrating them sometimes. So when I saw that EA Games had developed a mobile version of The Sims I found nostalgia compelling me to try it out. And imagine this – it’s free!

The Sims FreePlay truly is free to download, and ad-free as well. That doesn’t mean users won’t necessarily end up spending some money on it, but I’ll get to that. The Sims FreePlay sets users up immediately with a Sim and its house. For those who aren’t familiar with the original game, Sims are people avatars that can be customized. This includes all of the details of their physical appearance, and there is a set of personalities. Once created, the Sim moves into its house, which is then customized as well. The Sims Freeplay is a bit different from the original in that Sims can also develop careers and have pets.

Sims are a little bit like Tamagotchis in that they have needs and wants which must be monitored and cared for. This includes their happiness, hunger, sleep, hygiene and, uh, need to use the bathroom. To motivate users to continue playing the game presents challenges to complete, such as building a garden for the Sim, or having it make a friend. Completing challenges earns XP which earns levels which unlock items to purchase. The Sims Freeplay has in-game money as well as “LP” that can be spent on items or activities. To keep Sims happy they have to do things like bathe, sleep, and listen to music. All of these activities take time, real-world time to complete. Luckily they will continue in the background when the program is closed, or else LP can be spent to speed them up. If users run out of earned LP then they can of course spend a few real-world dollars to gain more.

It’s a fun game, if you enjoy digital pets. Sims can be friends or even romantically involved with one another. It’s vicarious living at the extreme, and I think that’s why it’s so captivating. When Sims are sad they generate a lot of sympathy so the drive to keep them healthy and happy will keep people playing on and on.

It should be mentioned that it is a huge game which required me to clear out a significant portion of memory just for it to install. It was worth it for the graphics, but a bit of a hassle if users are not expecting it or don’t have a large enough memory card. It is completely worth it for the graphics which are insanely crisp. The only problem is that they are on a small screen which causes some details to be lost. There is a limit to how far users can zoom in on the game, and so mistakes can be made. For example I accidentally placed my Sim’s fridge door up against the wall, making it impossible to open. Hopefully I can solve the problem before my Sim dies of hunger.

Real Racing 2 Review

Real Racing 2 Review

Dec 23, 2011

Allow me first to mention that I am terrible at driving games, just awful. I’m that person frantically waving their controller around trying to get off of the grass and back on the track. But I have never played a race game that made it so easy for me to stay in the game as Real Racing 2 does. No, that doesn’t mean that the game itself is easy, but more that the controls are so incredibly smooth that only the slightest of motions will aim your car exactly where it needs to go. But before that, before I even ran my first lap, I was already blown away by the game’s opening sequence.

It begins with beautiful movie-quality shots of race cars speeding down the tracks, and immediately makes your heart pound – you can tell right away that this is something special. The whole game itself has incredible graphics, with no detail spared. Your view is 1st person, from inside the car. Your driver’s arms steer the car in harmony with your own movements, and I found myself playing with the phone almost touching my nose because I was enjoying the view so much. The world around the tracks is so richly detailed that it is almost distracting – on the first level alone you can see a moving ferris wheel, and a blimp fly by!

Steering is controlled by your accelerometer, with the options of gas being auto-on or self controlled, and there are different levels of difficulty to give yourself future challenges. But there is more to Real Racing 2 than just making the rounds around the amazingly detailed tracks. Before you even begin playing you must choose (and buy) your car. You start off with some seed money, and the choice between two actual Volvo brand cars. From there you can go to the pit and purchase customizations for your car, such as engine improvements, or superficial things like a new paint job. The money for these upgrades comes from winning races of course. Aside from the cash you can score, you almost have the opportunity to win a better reputation. So much thought went into creating this setup that I want to applaud the creators for taking a standard game style and making it unique.

There is something about races that appeal to us on a primal level. The incredible speeds you can reach, the skill needed to slide ahead of your opponents, and the unbelievable rush you get when you win. Add to all of this the sounds of engines revving, tires squealing, and fast beats, and you have some genuine excitement. Real Racing 2 gives you all of that and more.

It does have to be said however that all of those amazing graphics come at a price – the game clocks in at a whopping 600MB of space. Despite that it runs pretty smoothly, but it can still lag at times. I’ve also had a few problems with it locking up my phone and forcing re-starts. I don’t know if that’s the game maxing out the limits of my phone, or bugs that need to be worked out in future updates. And finally it has to be said that the price of the full version – $6.99CAD – is a bit daunting. Understandable given the work and time put into creating such a rich experience, but it’s still a bit of a kick in the wallet.