Fallout Shelter Review

Fallout Shelter Review

Aug 20, 2015

At last, Bethesda has released Fallout Shelter on the Android, and personally, I couldn’t be happier. Fallout series is almost as famous as Mario nowadays, so I don’t think I should describe it in-depth. Basically, it’s an RPG, set in a post nuclear apocalypse America, with a distinct cheerful 50-s style mashed together with a very dark atmosphere. Fallout Shelter is a minigame that’s set in one of the numerous iconic shelters that are scattered across America, some of them working as the only safe havens across the radioactive wasteland. The player is tasked with sustaining and expanding one of them, fighting off the horrors of the wasteland, while making his citizens happy, well-fed, and working their sorry asses off.

Fallout Shelter is a shining example of why the “economic simulators”, or, simply, Farmville clones, deserve every bit of criticism. It’s not in the genre. It’s all in Fallout Shelter 2how you treat it. From the mechanic point of view, Fallout Shelter is just an economic sim with a slight dash of action and RPG thrown in. But the game has all the right elements, and hits just the right balance, to the point where you don’t want to put it away, even if you don’t actually have to do anything. Maybe it’s because I’m a fan of Fallout, but there’s no doubt that this game is crafted with much care, and actually attempts to be engaging – with great results.

The general mechanics of Fallout Shelter aren’t that unique. The player needs to construct various rooms that provide the shelter with everything, starting from the basic needs like power, water, and food, to medkits, weapons, and a lot more. The trick is that each room needs to have at least one human operator to function, so the player needs to manage his residents, assigning them to the room that best suits their abilities. The residents themselves can be acquired either by wandering randomly from the wasteland, or by being born from one of the female residents. The residents can also explore the wasteland and scavenge for various goods, including the main currency – bottlecaps, clothes, weapons, and more. But the shelter also has to be protected on its own, as it often gets assaulted by radioactive roaches, raiders, and even more deadly things, roaming around the wasteland.

All in all, this game is almost frustratingly catchy. It catches with its style, actually challenging and intelligent gameplay, and with its nods to the other games from the Fallout universe. So, I’m sure that both fans of the mobile economic strategies, and the fans of the Fallout games, are going to find Fallout Shelter equally pleasing.

Mini Motor Racing WRT Review

Mini Motor Racing WRT Review

Aug 4, 2015

Mini Motor Racing WRT is another micro-machines clone that is surprisingly difficult to talk about. It’s a very staple game, and the concept of small machines competing in 3D environments is so overdone that it’s honestly hard for me to even gather my thoughts about it.

Mini Motor Racing WRT gives the player control over one of the numerous micro-cars that race around various colorful tracks in a series of championships. The game has a bunch of game modes, standard stuff for racing games, the most important of which is a vast career mode. The core of them all is the same, though. The player needs to choose a vehicle, suitable for the track conditions – an interesting variable that includes off-road and rainy options – and race in one of the several race options. The game mechanics are entirely cloned from the dozens of other Micro Machines clones, with nary an upgrade. The game is also filled to the brim with ads and free-to-play mechanics that restrict the gameplay and frustrate you to no end. There’s everything in here: energy bar, unfair AI, a rather strict paywall. Also, not quite on the same level, but the menu interface looks just amazingly cheap, like it got lifted straight off a fifth-grader’s first videogame.

The surprising part in all this is that the actual racing is pretty good. The backgrounds are satisfyingly high-definition and the tracks are all different and unique. The carsMini Motor Racing WRT 3 are actually pleasant to control, and the complexity tracks requires the player to have some skill, regardless of the greatness of his car. It’s very unfortunate that the gameplay is covered with a bunch of crappy free-to-play mechanics.

Overall, it’s kinda difficult to advise this game, since if you like racing with tiny little cars with weird physics, there’s a bunch of other competitors out there, and the nice on-track experience of Mini Motor Racing WRT is spoiled by the abundance of frustrating restrictions and ads. So, you can try it if you want, maybe you can look past the frustration.

8 Ball Pool Review

8 Ball Pool Review

Aug 3, 2015

Pool is a bit of a weird game for me, since I’ve never been very interested in the real game, bu for some reason am obsessed with the digital version of it. There’s a lot of pool simulators out there, and 8 Ball Pool doesn’t exactly try to stand out a lot. Still, it’s a nice game with relatively honest rules and fine matchmaking.

In case someone doesn’t know the rules for 8 Ball Pool, the task is to net your 7 balls, finishing with an 8-ball, before your opponent does the same. It’s forbidden to strike your opponent’s balls directly, and it’s forbidden to net the 8-ball before you finish with the others. It’s a fairly straightforward game, so I doubt that even the very beginners are going to have much trouble with it.

Thankfully, 8 Ball Pool is exactly what it says on the can, and besides some mini-games, the game itself remains unchanged. The only variety is that there’s a lot of different cues that can be purchased with the in-game chips, or with virtual bucks that can, of course, be purchased with actual ones. Different cues provide some slight advantage to the player, but I don’t think that even the best ones are necessarily providing an unfair advantage. Skill and aim are still kings, so if you can’t aim and 8 Ball Pool 2calculate the outcome at all, no amount of cues are going to help – at least that’s what I took from the game. It’s quite possible that at the later stages, everything is determined by the size and shape of your cue.

The physics of 8 Ball Pool are surprisingly on point. The balls bounce and roll around just as one would expect from the real ones. Also, it’s actually possible to spin the cue ball, so if you’re certain in your abilities, all kinds of strategies can be possible, besides maybe sending the ball flying, but I’m pretty sure this trick should break some kind of universal rule, so whatever.

Overall, I got a pleasant feeling from 8 Ball Pool. Besides some ads in the menu and other fluff, I actually didn’t notice I was playing a free-to-play game during the match, and the game itself is pretty fun, so if you like pool, or would like to try it, 8 Ball Pool is as good place as any.

Fortress Fury Review

Fortress Fury Review

Aug 2, 2015

Fortress Fury seems like it should have been released more than 5 years ago, back when Angry Birds were still kinda popular, since this seems like a logical evolution of the concept. Fortress Fury lets the player build his own fortress, arm it with various medieval weapons and fight off against the enemy fortress, trying to destroy its core while keeping your own intact. It’s very fun, and while the game looks a bit overwhelming on the first try, it’s actually fairly easy to grab a hold of.

There are two primary parts in Fortress Fury. The first part is constructing the fortress itself. The process is simple and complex at the same time. The “fortress” is a vertical, rectangular patch of squared space that the player can fill in with blocks of different material, as well as with special parts. There is a number of upgrades that the player can purchase, some of which unlock the new blocks, while others improve the stats of those that are already unlocked. The material blocks are pretty straightforward, serving as the basis for the tower, and protecting the important bits. The special blocks are all different and serve different goals. The most important special block is the Fortress Fury 3tower core. If this block is destroyed, the whole tower falls apart, so this block should be protected at all costs. Its unique ability is that it can disguise itself as any other block, so the enemy never truly knows where it’s situated.

Another important block is the armor that, when activated, can protect a certain amount of blocks from being damaged. There’s a bunch of other special blocks, which can be unlocked, but have to be put sparingly, since the more powerful blocks player puts on his tower, the heavier it gets, and there’s a maximum possible capacity to a tower, meaning the player should try to conserve his resources, or make sacrifices. Finally, there are the actual weapons. They are simple static ballistas and catapults, with the exception of the front archers, which evolve over the course of the battle, and later on become huge monstrosities, chunking blocks of land at the enemy. The aiming and shooting is the same simple drag and release action that was in Angry Birds, their spin-offs, and influences. The game tends to become spammy, but it still has a strategy requirement to it, combining perfectly the player’s ability to design a great fortress, and his ability to aim his troops for the enemy.

Overall, Fortress Fury is really fun, although it does require some concentration and dedication. It’s easily one of the funnest free-to-play strategies I’ve seen, and is a great example of why free-to-play system doesn’t automatically equal frustrating and dumbed-down gameplay.

Borderline – Life On The Line Review

Borderline – Life On The Line Review

Jul 31, 2015

Borderline – Life On The Line is a great minimalist arcade that highlights the reason why simple, stylish arcades were so popular back before the free-to-play strategies devoured everything. It’s really simple, but requires a hell of a lot of concentration and skill to play well.

The player controls a tiny little orb that clings to a curvy line that seemingly goes on forever. The line has a bunch of obstacles around it, and crossing it, and the player needs to try and evade those obstacles by flying over them. At the same time, there are star trails sprinkled around the levels, and the player needs to collect them, boosting his high-score. The further the orb flies and the more points the player scores, the more contrived obstacles start popping up, and soon there’s not a second of peace for the Borderline 3player, since the line twists and turns, making it even more difficult to evade the objects correctly. Even one mistake, and the player needs to restart, or waste one of his precious hearts to continue playing.

Speaking of hearts, they are the only currency of the game, and I’m completely alright with that. They can be earned either by getting 100,000 points of score through any amount of runs, by finding one just floating in the level, by watching a video advertisement, or by purchasing them from the store. These same hearts are used to purchase all kinds of visual upgrades for the shape of the orb, the trail that goes after it, some additional effects, or even to change the in-level soundtrack – although I found the default soundtrack to be the most fitting, weirdly.

Overall, Borderline – Life On The Line a great and challenging little game. It has just the right amount of content. It even has multiplayer! I didn’t try it, though, since you need friends for that. The ads are somewhat irritating, but they can be disabled with a $0.99 micro-transaction which I think would actually be a decent price for it. So, if you’re a fan of minimalist, stylish old-school arcades, Borderline – Life On The Line is definitely for you.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Empires and Allies Review

Empires and Allies Review

Jul 16, 2015

It almost pains me to say it, but this Zynga-developed, free-to-play, unoriginal economic strategy that steals graphics from one game and mechanics from another, called Empires and Allies, is kind of fun. Now, before the sky falls right down on me, let me explain why.

To sum up its gameplay, it’s suffice to say that Empires and Allies is exactly like Clash Of Clans. It’s got all the same elements, the same battle structure and the same economics, only applied to a modern-day military setting. The player builds his base, trains units, and then attacks AI or player-controlled bases, in order to capture their resources. But, while the core of the game isn’t anything interesting, it still manages to capture attention.

There are three things that make Empires and Allies different – better, even – than Clash of Clans, and all of the titles that rip it off. First and foremost – it’s graphics. The game looks absolutely great. I am totally aware that it steals the graphics look of C&C Generals, but I think that it’s a vastly preferred option, compared to creating another generic fantasy crap. The units are all in glorious 3D, and the game looks absolutely top-notch, while still requiring relatively modest resources.

Second is the lack of energy bar. I may just be mistaken, and if so – feel free to correct me – but I haven’t noticed anything resembling that. I’ve completed a bunch of AI Empires and Allies 2missions in about five missions, and the only thing restricting me from doing more was that my army god beaten up and required new recruits.

The final part is the actual action. Most of the time, real-time parts of games like this are absolutely useless. The player chooses where to spawn his units, and from there he is basically absent. The abilities in those games might as well not be there. In Empires and Allies, though, the player is able to use his abilities at least once, and this can change the tide of battle – at least to some extent.

In the end, it’s just another free-to-play game, albeit with a nice quality to it. It’s still free-to-play, it still requires as much skill as it requires time and money if you want to get anywhere. But it succeeds in eradicating most of the irritating stuff, and it looks good. So, it definitely looks better than its competitor

Angry Birds Fight! Review

Angry Birds Fight! Review

Jun 19, 2015

Angry Birds were first released in 2009 – six years ago. It’s literally a thousand years in internet time. Although the franchise has long been erased from the collective memory, the games are still being released, and judging by Angry Birds Fight, they’re still going quite strong.

Angry Birds Fight is a simple match-three arcade with some fighting flavor thrown in for a good measure. The player picks one of the birds that have different abilities and stats, and fights against other players in a simple 1v1 matchmaking multiplayer. The task is to get more of attack and defense boosts than your opponent until the time runs out. After this, the birds fight each other and the winning bird gets experience, gold and possibly – some items as well. Defeating a certain amount of enemies allows the player to fight against AI pig boss that, when defeated, will open a new location and spawn some random accessories as well.

The match-three mechanics don’t really do anything different to any other similar, arcades, the only difference being that the players can mess each others’ boards by making different combos, erasing four or five blocks at once. The inventory system is really unoriginal, and while it provides some variety, I found it a bit cumbersome for simple gameplay of Angry Birds Fight. Really, the whole game has too many elements and would work a lot better as a simple multiplayer match-three arcade without the lengthy campaign and useless ship battles.

Angry Birds Fight is surprisingly balanced, if you don’t count the obnoxiousness that is its FTP restrictions. While Angry Birds Fight 2the gameplay itself is rather skill-based – at least for the time I’ve played it – there’s the whole package of the free-to-play elements, including the gems, the item upgrading, and the energy shtick, which is as repugnant as it always was. But, if you’re okay with playing up to fifteen minutes at a time, the game is rather enjoyable.

Overall, it’s another game, ruined by corporate greed and desire to have the same elements that the popular kids have. Angry Birds Fight could be a really great, simple game with good design, just like original Angry Birds were, but it’s sinking under the weight of the obligation to include every single FTP mechanic there is.