Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars Review

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars Review

Jan 5, 2015

Grand Theft Auto Chinatown Wars on Android is a pixel perfect port of the IOS and DS game of the same name. Players take control of low ranking triad member Huang Lee as he embarks on a quest of revenge to find those who killed his father and attempted to murder to Huang himself.

GTA: CW plays less like the later games in the GTA series and more like the top down GTA games of yore. Since Chinatown Wars was made for lower powered handheld systems however a lot of things that define the later games are absent in this version. Missions generally involve little more than shooting and driving and the game as a whole is much simpler.

Screenshot_2014-12-25-20-32-27GTA Chinatown Wars does have a few features not found in the later games. Chief among these is the supply/demand based drug dealing system where it is possible to buy low and sell high if you visit the right dealers. There are also scratch cars that can be bought to win money or free food.

Since GTA: CTW was originally a DS game there are a few existing touchscreen features. When jacking certain cars the player must complete a minigames to hotwire the car or disable its immobilizer. Molotov cocktails are also made using a touch interface.

Screenshot_2015-01-03-16-04-57Unfortunately, GTA Chinatown Wars suffers from a bevy of control problems that render playing the game with any kind of grace much harder than it should be. The digital controls for turning your car are nearly unusable and trying to drive though a few turns usually results in a quick collision. The analogue controls are no better. Weapon aiming is a chore and the auto aim likes to lock onto the least useful enemies possible. Only the controls for thrown weapons are easy to use. A Bluetooth control pad makes the game much more enjoyable, but this doesn’t excuse the poor virtual controls.

The problem with Chinatown Wars is that there are three other, better GTA games already on Android. GTA San Andreas has far more features, a massive world and much better controls. Both GTA III and GTA Vice City are fantastic games. Chinatown Wars, with its top down graphics and strange control method really can’t compete.

The game looks exactly the same as the game looked on DS. By today’s standards the game doesn’t look particularly good. Low res textures and poor gun effects aren’t very impressive but the game doesn’t look too bad. The stylized cutscenes still look great though, even if the lack of voice acting is a bit annoying.

Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars
is a decent port of a fun game that follows the basic GTA formula. It has a good story and some fun gameplay, but the awkward controls, old school top down viewpoint and lack of precise weapon aiming make it a game for GTA diehards only. It’s hard to want to play it when there are three other, better GTA games on the platform.

The Shadow Sun Review

The Shadow Sun Review

Dec 15, 2014

The Shadow Sun is an epic RPG that follows in the footsteps of other epic RPGs, like the venerable Aralon: Sword & Shadow and the more recent Runesword games. Does its huge world equal huge fun?

Screenshot_2014-12-12-05-44-39The Shadow Sun has some in depth character customization. Like any good RPG, there are lot of skills to pick from. Rather than traditional RPG classes, TSS allows the player to simply pick what their character is good at. Thus, it is possible to have a tough warrior or squishy mage, a spellsword, a more sneaky sort, or some other mix. There are proficiencies for each weapon type in the game including swords, axes and bows, so it’s easy to build just the type of character you want. There are also stats like strength and charisma to distribute as you see fit. These stats have more of an effect than combat as well. For example higher perception allows you to see secret doors and charisma is needed for some dialogue choices to appear.

After character creation the player embarks on an epic journey through a massive city and its surrounding area. What starts off as a routine diplomatic mission ends up changing the fate of the world. A mysterious plague, the local king’s sudden decent into madness and the general aggressiveness of everyone in the world point to some dark plan being unfurled.

The Shadow Sun features plenty of combat. Combat in TSS feels a bit like a MMORPG. There is an attack button for basic melee attacks and a row of icons for special attacks, magic and items. Special attacks are vital to surviving in TSS. They can stun enemies, preventing them from hitting you or simply damage multiple enemies or hit very hard. Combat is fast and fun and there is plenty of loot to be grabbed.

Screenshot_2014-12-12-05-45-47The Shadow Sun also does a great job of providing a fun world to explore. There are lots of houses and caves and the like just waiting to be found and looted. The game is full of people to talk to as well. The majority of the game’s quests are found by chatting to people and like Skyrim and other major RPGs, TSS plays much better if the player takes their time and savours it.

Like any good open world RPG, solving quests is down to the player’s choice. Most quests give you a choice of who to side with or a moral choice to be a jerk or not.

For example an early quest is acquiring a scared statue for a religious order. It has been stolen and is being bid on in a nearby auction house. The player can either legitimately pay the exorbitant price for the statue or simply take it and kill the 5 or so guards on the way out, despite the leader of the Order asking you not to use violence to retrieve the statue. The player can then lie about using violence or not. Choosing to tell the truth earns a reward.

Another situation is finding some slaves escaping their slain captors. The player can choose to let them go, or mercilessly kill the former slaves to take the money they were using to make a new life for themselves.
There are also more traditional RPG quests that involve lots of combat. Whenever it’s exterminating giant rats in a sewer, or wiping out a horde of crazed plague victims and smugglers, The Shadow Sun provides plenty of fun combat.

A problem with The Shadow Sun is the weakness of the player’s allies. Every ally in the game is useful for little more than being a meatshield and can’t really kill enemies on their own. Their attacks are pathetically weak, they attack very slowly and they can’t level up or be given better equipment. It’s kind of lame when a legendarily powerful mage ends up slowly throwing weak fireballs at enemies, struggling to kill even the weakest monsters.

Screenshot_2014-11-26-11-38-04The Shadow Sun is also quite hard. A few strong enemies ganging up on the player can kill them very quickly indeed and those used to Skyrim will be in for a rude awakening. Armour and equipment provides minimal benefit and I found myself dying more than I expected. The weakness of player allies compounds this, but the challenge is welcome. Side quests are often all by required to toughen up enough to handle central quests.
The game’s map needs work. With hard to read text and an interface that doesn’t seem to respond unless you tap directly on a certain part of an icon it is needlessly hard to use.

Graphically, The Shadow Sun is a mixed bag. Environments look very nice and the game is packed with atmosphere and varied enemies to fight. The character models themselves though look rather primitive and a few years out of date. Aralon: Sword & Shadow which came out in 2011 has similar quality character models.

The Shadow Sun’s sound is very well done. Little touches, like the way that different amour sounds different as you move in it and how each item type make its own sound when you loot it really make the sound feel polished. There is a fair bit of voice acting and combat sounds nice and visceral.

The Shadow Sun is an excellent game that refines games like Aralon and adds in a lot of player choice and a much more coherent plot. With loads of fun questing on offer and a complete dearth of in app purchases The Shadow Sun is a fantastic game with a few foibles that need tightening.

The Sandbox Introduces Killer Robots In Its Latest Update

The Sandbox Introduces Killer Robots In Its Latest Update

Nov 28, 2013

Everyone’s favorite pixilated open world mobile game, where SimWorld meets Minecraft, has yet again been updated, this time bringing robots from the future hell bent on destruction. Sound familiar?

With this update players are given some cool new features such as new robot oriented campaigns to choose from, along with some updates to the app icon, the menu, bug fixes, new elements and a whole lot more.

As always, The Sandbox remains free for anyone of any budget to enjoy.

Three Phase Interactive Announces Defect: SDK For Android

Three Phase Interactive Announces Defect: SDK For Android

Oct 11, 2013

Defect SDK 1

Defect: SDK is going to be about constructing massive space stations and ships, that will be later stolen by your own defecting crew. The gist of the game is that the players will need to build a space ship, strong enough to fit all of the mission requirements, but weak enough to be able to face it in battle later, when it gets stolen by the traitorous bastards. Defect: SDK looks very unique, and will be available early 2014 as an alpha, with a gold release set all the way into latter 2014. So far, there’s already a trailer and several screenshots available, and they are looking gorgeous. Stay tuned for the updates, and don’t forget to check on Defect: SDK Official Website.

SimpleRockets Review

SimpleRockets Review

Sep 13, 2013

Space. The final frontier. The strange, black mass around the Earth that’s calling out to us, daring to come at it with all the technologies we could think of. As the space exploration in real world is stalling behind the schedule, videogame spacemen are orbiting on the countless devices, including mobile phones. The most popular among the “realistic” space exploration simulators is, undeniably, Kerbal Space Program. It’s a whole another topic, worthy of a hundred of articles, but it’s quite obvious where SimpleRockets took the inspiration from. Although it’s a lot more simple, it’s fitting perfectly into the mobile screen.

SimpleRockets 3“SimpleRockets” is quite a misleading title for this game. In actuality, it’s among the most complex mobile simulators I’ve ever seen, and it’s great. SimpleRockets is a sandbox experience through and through. While it has several mission-type levels and a tutorial, it’s the sandbox mode where it really starts to shine. The game consists of several stages. The first is building a rocket. Every rocket should have a command module somewhere within it, and it should be kept safe at all times – but apart from that, players are encouraged to think of the most ridiculous constructions they can think of, and test them out. The parts can only be attached to the certain points, but it still provides an endless amount of possible constructions. Ship also has to have several stages that it goes through, while in flight, and they are also programmed in the first phase. Obviously, it’s all very complex, and I won’t describe it all – but it’s sufficient to say that anyone willing to understand a tiny bit about this game’s rules, should definitely go through every single tutorial. Anyway.

The second stage is actually launching the damn thing. The player needs to adjust the engine power and ship direction, as well as activate the next stage of the ship. There’s also a fuel reserve that should be kept in check. Obviously, if the ship is to get anywhere at all, player should correct the course from the special tactical map that shows the ship’s trajectory.

That’s only the basics of what SimpleRockets has to offer. There’s a whole solar system to explore, and getting to another planet is times more challenging than simply making it to the moon. Although the game is certainly not fit for everyone, and the exploration for the sake of exploration could make it quite boring. But on the other hand, it’s a great sandbox for space geeks, and fans of virtual construction sets. I’d like it even more if it, say, had an update with more ship details coming sooner or later, but it’s a great game regardless.

The Sandbox Gets New Update. With Pipes and Lasers!

The Sandbox Gets New Update. With Pipes and Lasers!

Sep 5, 2013

The Sandbox is a game with an IKEA-like approach to gameplay. The players are given a number of tools and an empty space, with a task to create whatever they want. As it turns out, this is precisely what most players want, so the game is incredibly popular – and for a good reason. Now it has achieved a version status of 1.2, and got pipes and lasers included in an already complex formula. The download links for Sandbox can be accessed from the game’s Official Site – or get it directly from Google Play

Survivalcraft Review

Survivalcraft Review

May 13, 2013

Survivalcraft is an interesting sandbox adventure that is very reminiscent of the sandbox cross-platform game Minecraft.

To be honest, it was pretty hard to see Survivalcraft outside of the shadow if the game it’s cloned from. A lot of the elements were similar. A careful look, however, did reveal things that made the former somewhat unique in its own right.

The game came in three modes: harmless, challenging, cruel, and creative. I was also able to tweak the conditions of the world in some of the game modes by toggling living conditions, weather and even time changes. There were a lot of options that changed the feel of the game, and thus increased the playability of the game. Folks familiar with Minecraft won’t be disappointed.

The basic premise played out like a Mark Burnett-inspired reality show: I was marooned by a sea vessel on an unfamiliar island, and had to use my ability to adapt to survive. The playing perspective was first person, and the graphics were a combination of block shapes and stark colors. The animations were purposely stilted, and the surv1appearance gave it all an understated charm. I could toggle views (like from first to third), and was able to move and crouch with the controls, and swipe to turn or glance around.

Now, a lot of the gameplay depended on the mode selected; basically, I had to do what was necessary to survive. The developer did a good job of making the gameplay feel realistic; crouching in water was lethal, as was being unprotected at night or not procuring and consuming enough sustenance. Mining and creating things out of my immediate surroundings helped me survive, as did avoiding natural dangers that lurked.

The thing I liked best about this game was the infinite perspective. I liked the ability to use stuff like electricity, horses and electricity.

For a clone, it was fun to play, and as noted, wasn’t a mirror image, which made it worthwhile to try.