Mar 14, 2014

Frontline Commando 2 is an urban shooting game that combines several elements into a tidy package.

It is an interesting cover system game, in that it isn’t just a simple matter of shooting and ducking from end to end. The game engine works within the gameplay to create situations where opportunity costs definitely come into play. The general idea is that the player controls a team of commandos, each with life bars and offensive and defensive attributes; waves of enemy soldiers come in in a host of different environments, and it boils down to a level-by-level battle of attrition.

The action is swift, and, just as in the original, is presented in third-person, which works for the gameplay. The FC1action areas are usually visually slight but quite wide, allowing for fairly liberal side-to-side movement, with the protagonists mercenaries occupying the foreground, and the enemy further “up” visually. The controls are spread out, with the shooting button nestled with the duck buttonThere is a sighing mechanism hat is easy to manipulate via gestures; placing it on the enemy and hitting the shooting button fires on said enemy, and if/when the enemy’s life bar is depleted, he is neutralized. Shooting automatically lifts the player out of the cover position, and he remains there until the cover button is tapped.

Now, the enemy gets craftier as progress is made; one weapon to be wary of is the tossed grenade. When one is tossed, there is an ominous red symbol shown on the screen, and it is time to GIT. Direction buttons on either side of available screen show up, and tapping them causes the lead character to hustle to another cover point. Then, snipers appear, as well as boss type of players with special body armor that need even more than usual damage to dispatch.

On the other side, completing missions earns action points and game currency which can be used to recruit players and upgrade weaponry and training, all of which are crucial for continues success. And real cash can be used.

It has smooth graphics; the animations are well designed. It is bloody, but not overly gruesome, and has the gritty looks we almost expect in these type of games.

I would have liked a more homogeneous menu system, but it’s tough to whine about that with innovative branches like PVP mode included. All in all, it a compelling free-to-play sequel, and fun without being pigeon-holed.

Call of Duty Black Ops Zombies

Call of Duty Black Ops Zombies

Sep 20, 2012

When it comes to realistic POV/FPS games, the Call of Duty franchise is easily one of the most popular across platforms. Good graphics, tight sounds and good battle simulations combine to make it a title worth procuring.

Call of Duty Black Ops Zombies brings the best of the game to Android in all it undead glory.

As far as official canon goes, this is a sequel to Call of Duty: World at War — Zombies (itself a spin-off of a specialized mode in an earlier title). It is set in WWII, and the developer found the one set of antagonists more despicable than Nazis. You guessed right: Nazi Zombies.

Having some console experience with this original title, I felt fairly familiar with the premise; like most zombie-shooter games, CODBOZ is a wave defense-style game. There was a seemingly unending number of zombies that come, and and they wanted to eat me. My job was to kill them and stay alive, and using era-specific pistols, shotguns, and the occasional explosives.

The controls worked better than I expected. There was the well-known crouch button, and I also had buttons for shooting. By incorporating double taps to do things like change posture or weapons, screen space is maximized. Thus, there was plenty of room for maneuvering, even on my non-tablet device. Aiming was easy at the lowest level of play, with red bullseye cursors letting me know I had the shot, and I was able to boost my accuracy by using the sights on the gun. Getting close to discarded items allowed me to tap an appearing virtual hand to pick them up.

I started off by running the tutorial, which transitioned smoothly into the first wave. In the early parts of the easiest level, the developers did a good job of making the gameplay easy enough for me to work into. I learned how to make repairs to the structure, and switch weapons, and pickup shotguns and stack up on grenades.

CODBOZ offers a good degree of variety. I was able to switch out from FPS to an unlockable arcade style-mode for top-down action and even multi-player with four players over wi-fi. Additionally, I found the developer also ported maps from the console version. Graphically, the game was okay. I thought there could have been a bit more pop. The sound is gritty; I did catch myself wincing at some of the terms, but I do have very sensitive ears.

The game did freeze on me, and it did take a fair amount of tinkering to get it back up. Also, this game is going to need a good amount of space… 350+MB. One positive is that while in-app purchasing exists to expedite things like regeneration and the procurement of weaponry, you can make progress without having to spend extra cash, which is good giving the current price of the game. The controls did seem to “stick” on me, but hopefully, any non-responsiveness can be corrected via software updates

All in all, there is plenty to like, and still adequate room for improvement with this port. It has enough of the runaway hit whose name it bears in its genes to keep the faithful happy, and enough juice to make new fans.

Blood and Glory Review

Blood and Glory Review

Nov 29, 2011

Blood and Glory is Glu’s latest freemium title, and it takes direct inspiration from iOS mega-hit Infinity Blade. The gameplay is similar, if not identical; players stand in one-on-one arenas against a gladiatorial opponent, dodging, defending, and parrying attacks in order to stun the enemy to unleash combos upon them. Fights are set up as part of tournament ladders, where players must defeat several opponents in a row to win, getting coins to spend on new items like weapons, shields, and helmets. Rubies serve as this game’s credits, being used to buy coins, special items, and potions for healing and stat buffing. They can be acquired through leveling up, by completing Tapjoy offers, and by purchasing them.

Blood and Glory may be familiar, but the gameplay does work well here, and actually provides more of a challenge. Without magic spells, and with smaller parrying windows than its progenitor, it proves to be far more difficult. At least potions, while not exactly cheap to acquire, can be used mid-match as well. The game does look really good on the iPad and Retina Display. Plenty of interesting armor and weapons are available despite the concept of this game being ever-so-slightly more grounded in reality, including one shield that would make Ed Gein proud.

The game would have done well to differentiate its product a bit more than as it currently stands. While it’s structurally different, the gameplay cuts close enough that it actually is on that line of being a clone. While unlike the Ninja Fishing controversy, no one is going to be weeping for Epic and ChAIR Entertainment, especially as they’ve reportedly made over $20 million from Infinity Blade. However, principally, it’s about the same, and more differences in gameplay to make it its own game would have been appreciated. Also, this game will be very difficult to play for free for a long time, as potions are only available through the in-app credits system. In fact, a lot of money will need to be spent in order to explore the game’s depths, especially with tournaments that cost large amounts of gems to get in. While making some items expensive is par for the course for other freemium Glu games and is perfectly fine with me, making potions only available through credits that are sparingly given out in-game does not sit well with me.

Sure, it’s basically Infinity Blade wrapped up in a Glu freemium shell. But Infinity Blade was quite fun, and Blood and Glory follows a similar path to feature similarly entertaining gameplay. While the freemium elements providing a glorified paywall after a short amount of time is a little on the annoying side, this is a good stopgap for people who are tired of slaying the God King, and need something to do while they wait for Infinity Blade 2. Android owners might get more satisfaction out of this, as their platform lacks for Infinity Blade entirely.

Star Blitz Review

Star Blitz Review

Sep 2, 2011

Star Blitz is a game for geeks. Basically an upgrade from classic arcade shooters, Star Blitz beefs up the graphics and controls to give mobile gamers a fun experience blowing things up in space. Original space shooters used to be relatively simple. Users had a little ship that moved left and right and sometimes up and down, but the missions never changed—destroy everything coming from the top of the screen. Star Blitz has the same premise, but the ultimate objective is more about collecting items and E-Money to beef up your ship, and head back into space to blow more things up.

Star Blitz utilizes touch-screen joysticks similar to that of the Xbox and Playstation platforms. The touch-screen joysticks that Star Blitz utilizes are intuitive and simple to use. The left stick moves your ship, while the right stick is the firing device. The controls on this game are very well executed, and users will enjoy them.

That Star Blitz is free is perhaps its greatest downfall and success at the same time. Like many apps, Star Blitz interacts with Facebook, allowing users to save data online and get wingmen that will help to blow up space-stuff. It also utilizes OpenFeint for social gaming features like friends and achievements. A feature that always seems to bother me on web-based games, however, is the integration of other services that enhance gameplay. For example, Star Blitz gamers have the opportunity to sign up for other services to gain “Space Cash,” which can be spent in the store to beef up their ship. Although it can be frustrating to run into advertisements for other services, Star Blitz prevents the ads from impacting gameplay, and easily allows users to return to the gaming screen when clicking on such ads—not too high a price for a free game.

Overall, Star Blitz is a blast that I could easily see myself playing to kill some time. It has a cool soundtrack, offers advanced space-shooter game-play for mobile devices, and incorporates awesome social features. I highly recommend this game to all the space junkies out there looking for a fun time blowing things up out in the stars.

Bug Village Review

Bug Village Review

Jun 21, 2011

There’s a trend at the moment for cutesy god games, simulators where you take control of a cartoon farm, city or shop and try and make it successful. To do this you manage resources, keep away dangers and make sure that everyone in your little conurbation is as happy as can be.

Bug Village is a new entry into the genre from Glu Mobile, originally released on iOS, which tasks you with the building and upkeep of a village for ants and bees. Because as everyone knows, bees and ants are the best of friends and like to live as close to each other as possible. You also have to right fallen ladybugs, but they’re not allowed to live in the village, because that would be weird.

After a brief tutorial, you’re left to manage the village on your own, building new houses for your ever increasing population, leaving them resources and food to find and making sure that none of those evil stink bugs stay too long around your precious huts and fences.

Whilst the game is free to download, you’re only given a certain number of coins to start off with. You don’t need the coins to play the game, but they speed things up a good deal, turning tasks that will, quite literally, take hours, into tasks that take a matter of seconds. If you want more coins, you have to pay, via an in-app purchase system.

The control system is simple, you use your finger as the cursor, tapping on things you want to do. The game looks and sounds almost exactly like you’d expect it to look and sound, all cute insects and twee songs with the odd tinkle and tone thrown in for good measure.

Bug Village is a perfectly passable little sim. It’s not particularly groundbreaking, and the in-app payment scheme will likely put some people off, but if you’re looking for an easy, time consuming game that’s not going to tax your brain or your reflexes, then it could be just what you’re looking for.

Contract Killer Review

Contract Killer Review

May 26, 2011

Murdering has been a part of gaming history ever since the first Space Invader invaded our space and was sent packing with a pixel sized bullet where the sun don’t shine. Ever since then, shooting digital things has become second nature to generations of well balanced, level headed children.

Following in that great, shooty, tradition, is Contract Killer, the new game from Glu Mobile. It casts you in the role of a deadly marksman, with a city to clean up and a small amount of bullets to do it in. To that end, you shoot your way through a variety of levels, taking out different targets for money, XP and the sheer hell of it.

The game is a first person, fixed point snipe-em-up. You start each level at a vantage point and from there have to find and execute your target. There are bodyguards and civilians thrown in for good measure, and it’s perfectly possible that if you miss your intended victim a few times, they’ll just run away, leading to a mission failure. Each kill earns you XP and money that you can use to buy new weapons and ammo, health upgrades and any number of other murdering accoutrements.

The game is pretty impressive looking, with some of the best graphics I’ve seen in an Android game. The music and sound effects too are of a pretty high quality, giving the whole package a highly polished sheen that sets it apart from the rest of the crowd.

Unfortunately, the gameplay doesn’t quite match the aesthetic experience. The sniping elements all work well, and there’s a depth to the game that similar titles are lacking, but quite often you’re just stood there getting shot by people, and that’s not a particularly enjoyable thing to do.

Contract Killer is a bit of a strange one, then. It tries to add something extra to a type of game that is, to all intents and purposes, a one trick pony; and it manages admirably. The problem is that it goes too far, adding more and more features to make the game exciting, but making it less enjoyable in the process. There’s fun to be had here, but not as much as there should be.

Glu Mobile Announces Partnership With NVIDIA

Glu Mobile Announces Partnership With NVIDIA

Jan 7, 2011

CES has been full of announcements and goodies for us Android users. This year is gearing up to be the year of Tablets, LTE phones, Honeycomb, and Tegra 2 dual core processors. Android devices are becoming faster and more powerful than ever and these advancements are sure to catapult the mobile gaming industry into a whole new era. One gaming publisher planning to take full advantage of these advancements is Glu Mobile.