LEGO Star Wars: TFA Review

LEGO Star Wars: TFA Review

Aug 18, 2016

Two things I hold dear: Star Wars and LEGOs. The former opened a world of imagination, and the latter gave me the tools to physically build it.

The continual amalgam of virtual LEGO characters and major franchises is almost always welcome, as is the new LEGO Star Wars: TFA, based off the latest Star Wars movie, The Force Awakens.

As with most LEGO-themed games, this one relies somewhat on the relevant source material to cobble together an adventure that encompasses more than one movie period. The imagery is quite LEGO-ey, with adjusted looks and interesting constructions. The animations are quite smooth, and the game does an engaging job of creating several different type of playing environments with the same template. It looks fun, relives the movies and pops visually.

Controls-wise, a simple gesture system makes things happen; a big part of the game is exploration and interaction. There are a lot of things to research, and this allows the game to take on a bit of an adventure path. Beyond the crafting aspect, one sees opportunities to battle enemies.

tfa3

If getting involved with movie characters is one’s thing, this game shouldn’t disappoint; starting with Poe, there are quite a few to invest in. I found the different type of fighting enjoyable. Dogfighting, gun battles and the like. Interestingly, there are new fighting mechanics included that further set this iteration apart from early stablemates.

All content isn’t available for free though; a paid All Season Pass unlocks everything, plus feature additions. The game is Family Library-eligible.

All in all, it should be a visual feast — even for folks who are used to LEGO entries. It doesn’t try to match the movie plot point for plot point, and I think that serves it well. It stands on its own, and that’s all someone can ask for.

Suicide Squad: Special Ops Review

Suicide Squad: Special Ops Review

Aug 9, 2016

Summer is the season of the major motion blockbuster and — as an increasing norm — the major motion blockbuster companion mobile game. DC Hero spawns the anti-hero flick Suicide Squad, and from that, we get Suicide Squad: Special Ops.

Yes… the joy of living.

It action comes in first-person style, and landscape is how it is taken. The game is decidedly dark, with visual tools that give it a bit of an ominous look. Our three characters are easily identifiable: the keen-eyed Deadshot, the incendiary El Diablo, and the spooky Harley Quinn. Overall, the artwork and animations work well.

Each of our heroes has a representation of their telltale powers, and via use of cutscenes and an interactive tutorial, one gets to understand the basic idea which gets us here: the city is overrun by, uh, creatures, and the players job is to survive the wave of attackers and make progress.

The controls are pretty liberal: one side to swing the targeting module, and the other side moves the character. Shooting/attacking is done when the target has the movable sights on it and is close enough, so all one needs to do is be nimble enough to keep the baddies in front. The baddies do attack if they close enough, so it makes sense to keep them at arm’s length. One can select which hero to use every so often, and there is an opportunity cost associated with such a choice.

ss3

There are checkpoints and ammo depots and health packs to pick up; at certain junctures, one might be invited to upgrade an attribute which makes battling easier. There is plenty of city space to check out as well.

It’s all about survival.

It’s a simple, energetic romp, one which boils down to a first-person wave shooter; it has the benefit of having relevant characters, easy-to-understand gameplay, and the current movie tie-in definitely doesn’t hurt. It manages to squeeze in a usable task, a replenishment system, RPG elements… and more.

In some aspects though, it might be short of fulfilling. While it has the benefit of diving right into it, folks looking for a bit of a tangible backstory might be a bit miffed. The targeting system feels a bit rudimentary at times, and the controls could be a bit more reactive in the combat scenes.

The timing is great, and in the end, that’s the biggest asset; it looks to be a veritable companion game, and we won’t — can’t — complain about that.

Injustice: Gods Among Us Adds Suicide Squad Content: Video of the Day

Injustice: Gods Among Us Adds Suicide Squad Content: Video of the Day

Aug 4, 2016

Warner Bros’ DC Superhero-laden Injustice: Gods Among Us is adding in some new content — notably, Suicide Squad peeps — just in time for the major motion picture based on the antihero group.

The new goodies (including characters, in-game events, etc.) are coming to the game via an update which is rolling out currently.

The latest update is the largest to hit the game in over a year, bringing fresh content for both new and returning players. A variety of Suicide Squad-themed playable content are featured in the new update including a new character and skins, special in-game events, rewards and more.

Players can now assemble an all-star team of Super-Villains with the first playable debut of the assassin Deadshot and Suicide Squad skins of fan-favorites The Joker and Harley Quinn. Challenge, Multiplayer and Survivor mode have also been updated with exclusive Suicide Squad rewards including new companion cards.

The game remains free (with in-app purchasing opportunities) on Google Play.

Checkout the updates art and video below:

injustice2

LEGO Jurassic World Review

LEGO Jurassic World Review

Apr 8, 2016

Jurassic World lives on… via LEGO Jurassic World.

The graphics will be familiar to anyone who has played a LEGO-based game on mobile or console: blocky, lego-ey characters superimposed on imaginative and rich backgrounds, plus smooth animations and popping sounds. There are a lot of cutscenes that tie the action together, and the visual attributes of this game underscore its specific franchise roots. Jurassic World comes to life, with the block-inspired amalgam of jungle and high technology, and it all comes together in a very engaging way. Toss in the iconic score, and it’s a party.

The control set is adjustable, as one can use touch controls or floating/fixed virtual joystick to get the characters do what they are supposed to do. There are other actions buttons, which allow the character to jump, use a weapon/melee attack, and to act on objects.

The game starts with a bang — almost literally; the player takes on the persona of a protagonist in a section called “Raptor Transfer”. This section allows one to get comfortable with the controls as described, and is great to get the lay of the game. A lot of the action involves exploring and, in essence, solving puzzles to complete tasks. Secondary to that, one can collect studs — easily dispensed by breaking up stuff — and use this procure other stuff.

jw3

In short order, one gets another character with complementary ability and tools, and it becomes necessary to switch out to get things accomplished. In the end, by trial and error (and a keen eye for visual cues), it becomes possible to initiate the sequence that leads to the sections end… and then it is on to another section in another area, with a new batch of characters.

The game manages to keep one’s attention; though the core concepts don’t change, the specific tasks and locales do. There are dinosaurs, and even poop to sift through. Pig rodeo, Jimmy Fallon’s voice etc…

It’s yet another fine LEGO game, and this one does an admirable job of being great for fans of the franchise and ALSO being capable of having its own standalone following.

Batman v Superman Who Will Win Review

Batman v Superman Who Will Win Review

Mar 23, 2016

We noted it before: with regards to major motion picture movies, the somewhat simultaneous release of a companion mobile game — or two — isn’t much of a novelty anymore; in fact, it’s all but expected. It is simple, and it’s smart… leveraging handheld gaming to build and maintain mindshare that can help propel a movie from “popular” to “must-see” makes a lot of sense on many levels.

DC is definitely trying to sew together its superhero offerings like its main competitor has been, and the merging of two of its latest franchises, Batman and Superman, has been a foregone conclusion for quite some time. In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (which opens this week), we get to see the Dark Knight take on the Man of Steel in movie form.

And we also get Batman v Superman Who Will Win.bvs3

No, not a lot of battling here; we should get that out now. It’s a simple three-laned runner set in a city environment that allows one to run as either iconic character.

Still, the game features rich graphics, even within the, uh, tried and true game paradigm, and is especially easy on the eyes. it features two gameplay sides that correspond to each hero, and each reflects an indentifiable color scheme. The visual pieces pop when they need to, complement the action at other times and even help serve as a conduit for the somewhat chaotic music.

The game plays in portrait, and one runs through the aforementioned cityscapes, looking to avoid stationary obstacles (like barriers) and the numerous moving ones (like vehicles). The vehicles move towards the running hero, so a bit of timing is needed to avoid those.

Avoiding the obstacles is performed by gestures: swiping to either side makes the hero dart to the corresponding side, while swiping up causes him to jump. There are gold pieces (fashioned to look like either hero’s crest) that line the runway and can be collected; there are also boosts. The goodies almost always create opportunity costs situations, and the efficacy of the boosts can be improved by collected gold.

One notable element is the ability to create a continue opportunity by quick tapping to beat a clock; ultimately, success is a measure of distance traveled and gold collected. Real cash can be used, but doesn’t feel necessary.

If one is able to get beyond the perceived disappointment of what the game could have been, they’d most likely find this one to be a decent running game that is easy to get into.

And it is Batman and Superman, after all.

Edge of Tomorrow Review

Edge of Tomorrow Review

Jan 28, 2016

All hail the continued extended experience that major motion picture companion games bring.

Looks like they’re here to stay for the foreseeable future, and we sure as heck are not complaining; what’s not to love in games that are based off of movies and animated shows that we are going to see anyway? It makes sense for all parties involved, plus we get to see new games that are mostly commissioned by studios that have loads of cash to throw at mobile development.

Games like Edge of Tomorrow, based on an interesting movie that came out a while back featuring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt.

The opening cutscene is a direct cut from the movie, which should be a boon to fans of the movie, as it does a great job of the mimicking (see what I did) the opening battle scene, with plenty of explosions, crashing ships. landing troops and enemy creatures. The artwork is pretty engaging; one practically can feel the kicked up sand in one’s mouth, and feel the fear.

The method here is fairly easy to understand; it comes in FPS/portrait, and swiping across the screen swings one’s view and the gun sights. A generous virtual joystick is provided on the left side, and the main idea is to avoid hazards (especially the blighted Mimics) and make it to a waypoint. When the sights land on a Mimic, the gun auto-shoots till it is out of ammunition, at which point one generally uses another weapon, or is killed by the eventual Mimic.

edge3

There are goodies to be picked up, yes, so the game is able to feel a bit like an arcade title.

There are several enjoyable elements that make the game stand out. For one, the shooting mechanism is fairly easy to get with and use. The auto-fire makes it easier to wield, and the system works very well with the first person view. Then, the way the game incorporates the reincarnation aspect from the source movie is fairly seamless — not exact, but close enough to be noted.

On the other hand, the gameplay’s innate action creates quite the chaotic experience, and sometimes, it feels overly busy… almost as if the game is being forcibly restrained by the source material.

All in all, it comes across as a pretty great companion game, and is strong enough to survive as a standalone FPS adventure.

Johnny Cage Arrives on WWE Immortals

Johnny Cage Arrives on WWE Immortals

Oct 16, 2015

For a limited time, fans of WWE Immortals have another reason to get stoked: Johhny Cage.

The character from the Mortal Kombat universe is available as an unlockable character for a limited time; he also appears in Mortal Kombat X.

But alas! This is only for a limited time:

Now through Oct. 29, players will be able to unlock the crossover character in a Challenge Mode by completing a series of laddered fights with Johnny Cage himself as the final boss. For those who want to immediately add Johnny Cage to their roster, the Johnny Cage Early Access Pack is also available now through Oct. 22, for players to purchase from the in-game store.

WWE Immortals continually adds new characters to its roster.

We had a ball reviewing WWE Immortal; it remains free with (in-app purchases) on Google Play.

[Our WWE Immortals Review]

WWE Immortals Adds New Characters and More via Update

WWE Immortals Adds New Characters and More via Update

Aug 21, 2015

There’s a new update to WWE Immortals.

This one, amongst other elements, adds two WWE superstars: Batista and Seth Rollins. Additionally, it is adding new in-game Bonus Events and is updating its Multi-player Rewards system.

According to the press release, WWE Immortals has, since its January 2015 launch, doubled its roster of WWE superstars to 50.

Some excerpts from the presser:

In advance of SummerSlam airing this Sunday at 7 pm ET on WWE Network, the game’s Multiplayer Rewards system has been updated to provide players with new, exclusive rewards for competing online, such as DX Legendary Gear and exclusive characters like Voodoo Bray Wyatt. WWE fans can also enter the WWE Immortals SummerSlam Sweepstakes for an opportunity to win a number of exciting in-game rewards and SummerSlam merchandise.*

WWE Immortals continues to add new playable characters to its existing roster with the unveiling of additional WWE Superstars every month.

We had an opportunity to review WWE Immortals not that long ago; it remains free to play on Google Play, and the update is live now.

Check out the update art and the original trailer below:

HOXCvztNIXlJkHdc_GTh_w6HcFF-l1lxkESNqVp7GyM

[Our WWE Immortals Review]

Mission: Berlin Review

Mission: Berlin Review

Aug 10, 2015

If cloak and dagger escapades are your thing, Mission: Berlin just might be an option.

For inspiration, one need not too much further than the upcoming Warner Brothers flick Man from U.N.C.L.E. which is due out soon; the movie itself is based on the iconic TV series from the ’60s.

The game starts quietly, almost surreptitiously; one gets to pick from two agents from rival agencies with different character traits and backgrounds. After selecting the preferred character, one gets right into the game proper.

The first “mission” serves as a tutorial of sorts, leading players through the virtual controls and giving an idea of how the action unfolds. The perspective is an adjustable third person, and the dual controls manage swinging the protagonist view, as well as movement and attack. Movement involves being able to run, crouch and walk.

The game, as hinted at, is mission-based, and the content is decidedly Cold War-ish: taking out targets, collecting information, dead drops and such. Different tasks require different skills, and the game even hints at when stealth might be good to use.

And yes, there are enemy folks, and these do not seem to be reluctant about shooting when spooked. One can select weapons to use, or use hands in a melee-style approach when possible; the idea is to finish quickly and efficiently and move on.

mb1

If a mission is completed successfully, the player gets points based on criteria like use of weapons, time used and enemies defeated. Skill points are also awarded, and these can be used to improve the agent’s skills. If a misson is not completed, one gets to restart from a checkpoint.

It comes together nicely, if a bit haphazardly; the graphics are expressive, but there are some visual aspects that feel like they could be a bit sharper; sometimes objects pop up right n front. Literally. The car sequences are a glorious touch, but I do feel the steering mechanism could be a bit tighter. It allows for a degree of choice with regards to allowing the player to figure out how to complete a mission, but doesn’t allow for too much rope which could cause confusion.

Put together, it is hard to dislike. Espionage is almost always in, and the action sequences make this one right at home.

MORTAL KOMBAT X Review

MORTAL KOMBAT X Review

May 21, 2015

Simply put, it’s Mortal Kombat X. Enough said.

There are two modes, Battle and Faction Wars, with a new one — Raiden Challenge — coming soon. It unfolds in a fairly logical manner; in the base form, one has a set of three fighters, and takes on three enemy fighters in a war of attrition. In Battle Mode (where I spent most of my time), the 3v3 paradigm is on full display.

The engaging aspect is obviously the stable of MK universe characters to pick from. Yes, originals like Sub-Zero and nemesis Scorpion are here, as are Cage and Kitana. There are some relative newbies too. D’Vorah, to say the least, is creepy. Combat is a matter of battling till the life bars go dry, and the side with a combatant(s) still standing wins the round. Attacking is effected by tapping and swiping, so battling is usually accompanied by a flurry of virtual screen action.

Within this battling system are a few more elements that add some depth. One can switch out fighters on the fly, such that if, in the middle of a match, one can pick another fighter that, say, matches up better with a particular opponent. Finishing a allows for allows one to get to the next, and yeah, there are bosses. Fatalities are present, and winning accrues payouts which can be used to improve individual fighters (an aspect that can be expedited with real cash).

mk4

In Faction Mode, one can go toe-toe with other players online for prizes and leaderboard dominance.

It comes together well. The characterizations are gritty, and even the familiar folks are done up in a fashion that ups the menace factor. The fighting is great, if a bit one-dimensional, and the card elements are not overly pronounced during gameplay. The controls are okay, but still feel like something is missing in translation. That could be due to my console history with the title.

It’s a nice port, definite;y passable, and with enough console tie-ins (reward unlocking, hello?), it’s a great game for franchise fans and future fans alike.

Batman: Arkham Origins Review

Batman: Arkham Origins Review

Jul 31, 2014

As Gotham City and the world at large looks towards the future and Batman: Arkham Knight, Android-centric gamers are only now getting a taste of what caped crusading in the early days of the Dark Knight’s career entail.

Batman: Arkham Origins, at its core, follows the template set by Infinity Blade. It’s a path taken by many a mobile title– including quite a few licensed ones, such as Man of Steel– but for the most part, Batman does it better than numerous others which have nipped at the popular title’s heels. It takes some of the key aspects of the console title of the same name– features such as story, setting, visuals, etc.– and grafts it onto a game more streamlined and arguably better suited for a mobile title.

As the recently-debuted Batman, players find themselves having caused a fair bit of trouble for one of Gotham City’s top crime bosses, the Black Skull. Black Skull is not terribly keen on this, and so he sets a massive bounty in the head of the Bat that draws in mercenaries from all over to take a stab– or various other kinds of lethal blows– at claiming the bounty. Among those the Dark Knight will contend with are the likes of the Electrocutioner, Copperhead, Bane, and Deathstroke the Terminator– as well as a number of random masked thugs here and there.

batmanarkhamorigins1The game is free-to-play, which of course means that while playing is free, investments are needed in order to secure more desirable components in a timely manner. Though you can slowly accumulate soft currency, hard currency (the most expensive option of which is over $100) is likely the only way that anyone will be dressing up in a variety of the Batsuits available (each with their own stats and bonuses) in a timely manner. Among others is the Beyond Batsuit, which makes the prospect mighty tempting.

One can also customize the Batman in a number of ways, from different tools to restore health or unleash a flurry of bats on an opponent to increasing the effectiveness of punches and strikes. Different stances are even available, for those who would rather focus more on defense than offense. Certain options, however, require leveling up to a certain degree before they become accessible.

As players progress, more missions open up for Batman to swoop in and put a stop to. They begin in the upper-west side, but soon spread to all four quadrants of the Gotham City map, and no sooner than one crime is foiled than another pops up, along with occasional ambushes by those hunting the Black Skull’s Bat-bounty. This is where Free-to-Play rears its ugly head, as Batman can only go for so long, as measured by his Stamina bar. When depleted, there are of course two options: Wait for the bars to replenish over time until the amount required for a mission has been refilled, or say “Screw the rules; I have money!” and just buy a second wind.

Batman: Arkham Origins looks good and sounds great, too, presumably sharing its voice acting with the console title as Not-Kevin Conroy does a good job as a younger Master Wayne. The music is quite nice and fitting, reminiscent of the kind of tunes one might associate with the classic Batman: The Animated Series or some of the World’s Greatest Detective’s higher points in cinema. The touch and swipe-based controls work well for the most part, though we did notice that Batman seems slower to guard than he is to strike, the problems with which should be obvious.

All told, if one considers themselves a fan of Batman, yet for whatever reason could or would not play the console version, the mobile version of the game is a pretty good alternative for those still wishing to experience the story.

Scribblenauts Remix Review

Scribblenauts Remix Review

Jul 9, 2013

Anyone who has ever owned a Nintendo DS may well have come across Scribblenauts. Essentially it’s a puzzle game set in a 2D platformer style world where the player has to solve various objectives- be it getting past a locked gate or chopping down a tree- to receive a star and advance to the next level.

What makes it unique is that it’s possible to create just about any object to complete the goals. Simply tap the keyboard icon and type out a word and it will appear on the screen ready to use- just as long as it’s a noun and isn’t anything objectionable or trademarked. Even better it’s possible to add adjectives, so rather than merely creating a giraffe it’s possible to conjure up a ‘tiny, angry giraffe’.
scribble2
Scribblenauts Remix plays in exactly the same manner as the original DS games and in fact having played the original games I’d seen much of what Scribblenauts Remix has to offer already, as it consists of 40 old levels and just 10 new ones.

Re-used content aside it’s a sublime experience. Being able to create almost anything is hugely liberating and fun, while having a touchscreen keyboard actually makes it a lot quicker to type things out than in the DS versions. The other controls are slick and more or less perfect as well. Press against the right edge of the screen to move right and the left edge to move left. Maxwell (the player character) will automatically climb up ledges and swim across water so things are kept simple. Once an object or creature has been created simply tapping and dragging it is all that’s necessary to use it or equip it.

It all works brilliantly well and it looks great too. The levels are also surprisingly varied, with goals such as causing the extinction of the dinosaurs without resorting to weapons or meteors. The flip side is that as it’s possible to create just about anything it’s also very easy. Occasionally it’s necessary to think outside the box but normally almost any level can be completed with ease- and often in dozens of different ways.

Thankfully the real fun doesn’t come from the challenge; it comes from experimenting and messing around. It’s basically like having a bottomless toy box. For example I found myself wondering who would win in a fight between a fire breathing lion and a mutated T-Rex, so I created them and found out (it was the T-Rex). It’s a cliché but the only real limit to the fun was my imagination- and I suppose the small scale of the levels. The re-used levels are a shame but for anyone who has never played Scribblenauts this is pretty much essential- particularly at the low price of just $0.99.