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Hard Lines iPhone Review

Posted on 26th Jun 2011 at 10:44 by David Hing with 9 comments

David Hing
Back when mobile phones were still thought of as a new idea, Nokia's 3210 was highly sought after in many circles for its built in version of the highly addictive game Snake. Fast forward a decade, and Hard Lines is attempting to be a worthy successor to that classic title.

The mechanics of Hard Lines are simple. With simple directional strokes of your finger, you steer a line around the screen towards randomly spawning markers, accruing points while avoiding other lines that enter from the sides of the screen.

Slick and neatly designed, Hard Lines is clearly influenced by the Light Cycles from Tron, yet it doesn't limit itself to that one style of play; there are several variations. In some modes, you gain points by getting opposing lines to crash into you or the walls; in others you race against the clock, or just try to last for as long as possible. There are also some good bonuses, such as the occasional power up that enables you to crash through any other competing lines without killing yourself.

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Chicks vs. Kittens iPhone Review

Posted on 7th Jun 2011 at 07:53 by David Hing with 5 comments

David Hing
In Gaming Digits' Chicks vs. Kittens you’re charged with ensuring the safety of a mother bird defending her nest against a hoard of poultry-hungry kittens. This is achieved by hatching chicks and weaponising your offspring against the feline invaders. As you do.

Games for iOS live and die by their personality, though, not whether their premises make sense, and Chicks vs. Kittens has plenty of personality. Your ammunition flaps around happily while it waits to drop onto enemies, while the climbing kittens are more lovable than sneezing baby pandas, with animations that are clear and crisp even when they’re blown up to iPad size.

As far as the controls and gameplay go, Chicks vs. Kittens is a simple reaction test with a little bit of tower defence strategy thrown in to boot. The influence of the latter is manifested in the way you equip your chicks to perform different roles through the use of hats. Hats can be used to increase the strength of chicks, to upgrade your leaf-based economy or to change the way they attack kittens. Variations are constantly added throughout the game.

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Carcassonne iPad Review

Posted on 7th May 2011 at 10:18 by David Hing with 10 comments

David Hing
The iPad is an ideal platform for board games. It's large enough for more than one person to sit round it for a local game without feeling stupid, and its touchscreen is sizeable enough to make it practical to move pieces, even if you have chubby fingers. Thus, it was only a matter of time before classic board games such as Carcassonne jumped to the platform.

The game itself is easy to learn, and is mostly based around the idea of developing the areas around the titular French town. At higher levels, though, the strategies and tactics involved can become enormously complex, although this iPad version eases you in with spoken tutorials and a full digital manual. It takes very little time to get to grips with the mechanics, with only a few references back to the documentation, and the interface is kept gloriously pristine.

There are a few different basic game-types, including a Solitaire mode that follows slightly adapted rules to the core game, plus online, local and AI matches.

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iPad Review: Sword and Sworcery EP

Posted on 11th Apr 2011 at 10:50 by David Hing with 12 comments

David Hing
Superbrothers: Sword and Sworcery EP for the iPad is like nothing else you have ever played. Described as ‘a 21st century interpretation of the archetypical old school videogame adventure’ it uses beautifully crafted pixel-scapes to do for video gaming what the impressionist painters did for art.

A collaborative project from indie studio Capybara, rock musicians and art from the Superbrothers themselves, Sword and Sworcery EP is a essentially a point and click adventure game that sees you cast as a warrior out to destroy an ancient evil. To do that you’ll need to solve puzzles, fight bears and collect an artefact called the Megatome – so far, so adventure-game. What sets is apart from the likes of Kings Quest however are the lashings of surrealism, abstraction and poetry that somehow never slips into infuriating pretentiousness.

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iPhone Review: Dead Space

Posted on 6th Feb 2011 at 09:52 by Joe Martin with 10 comments

Joe Martin
It’s startling what’s possible with technology these days. A few decades ago Pong! was the pinnacle of interactive entertainment, and digital watches were the height of fashion. Nowadays, games such as Dead Space for iPhone offer console-like experiences on pocket-sized devices. Meanwhile, I’m wearing a wind-up watch, so maybe not everything progresses equally.

The term ‘console-like experience’ is one that gets bandied about a lot on the AppStore, with the likes of the simplistic-but-stylish Infinity Blade making an especially big deal about it. To us, though, the iPhone version of Dead Space is the first title that really lives up to that claim, matching great graphics with decent complexity.

Casting players as a new character in the Dead Space universe, codenamed Vandal, Dead Space for iPhone bridges the game between the 2008 series debut and the more recent sequel. Acting as a secret agent for the church of Unitology, Vandal is manipulated in the opening chapters in order to contribute to the disaster that forms Dead Space 2’s backdrop.

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iPhone Review: Ultimate Spiderman: Total Mayhem

Posted on 12th Jan 2011 at 07:28 by Joe Martin with 12 comments

Joe Martin
There's only one problem with Ultimate Spiderman for the iPhone - there isn’t enough of it and, when the end comes, it feels abrupt and lacks closure. There’s no real plot that ties the action together; just a series of boss fights linked by someone occasionally muttering ‘prison break.'

You knock the wind out of Sandman, run Rhino through a wall, truss Doc Ock up with his own arms, nullify Venom, best the Goblin and that’s it. End of line, as they say.

It’s disappointing because, right up until the end, Ultimate Spiderman is one of the few truly console-quality games on the iPhone. As Ultimate Spiderman you can run, jump, swing and soar through a number of (relatively) gorgeous levels, finding hidden areas and unlocking comic book art, trophies and extra moves.

Ultimate Spiderman’s button-mashing melee is also perfect for the tiny touchscreen, especially when compared with the awkward thumb-panning and auto-aim of most iPhone shooters.

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iPhone Review: Bad Company 2

Posted on 9th Jan 2011 at 10:56 by Joe Martin with 15 comments

Joe Martin
They say they devil is in the details, in which case you should imagine Bad Company 2 for the iPhone as having red skin, horns, a trident tail and breath that smells worse than wet, rotten garlic. What really kills Bad Company 2 is the lack of fine polish – and that, sadly, makes a huge difference to the overall experience.

This is a shame, because Bad Company 2 initially looks good. It has a lengthy singleplayer campaign, which slots neatly into the story of the full, proper Bad Company 2, plus a four-player multiplayer mode that’s supported over WiFi and 3G. The graphics are lush, and it packs in plenty of variety too, despite a disappointing tendency to resort to turret sequences.

The multiplayer is especially impressive, in fact. While five levels and support for four players might not sound like a lot, it’s actually a perfectly judged limitation for a mobile phone game. If you want to sit down and invest yourself in lengthy tournaments and huge clan matches, then you're better off going back to the full version of the game. The iPhone version is much more suited to drop-in, drop-out games that keep you occupied while you’re patiently enduring whatever dross happens to be on TV.

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iPhone Preview: Dead Space

Posted on 3rd Jan 2011 at 08:33 by Joe Martin with 15 comments

Joe Martin
It’s too easy to use the word ‘impressive’ to describe some of the new releases hitting the App Store lately; the word is starting to lose meaning and isn’t that useful to start with. We’re talking about games running on a mobile phone – all they have to do is be even semi-playable and they end up way ahead of expectations.

Dead Space for the iPhone, however, looks very impressive.

The kudos here doesn’t stem just from the graphical detail that’s been ploughed into the game though, but more from the depth of the gameplay. Dead Space on the iPhone is essentially that – Dead Space for the iPhone, feature complete. It has the same third person perspective, the same sprawling and haunting levels and the same focus on dismembering enemies. Lopping limbs off with your array of mining tools and scavenged weapons is a little bit trickier on a touch screen than on consoles or PC, but it’s still manageable and fun.

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iPhone Review: Hook Worlds

Posted on 16th Dec 2010 at 11:39 by Joe Martin with 3 comments

Joe Martin
Hooks are a recurring motif for Rocketcat Games, it seems - as 'Cry' is to Crytek, perhaps. It's a motif that has taken center stage in both of Rocketcat's previous titles, Hook Champ and Super Quick Hook.

Now, it shows up again in Hook Worlds - albeit under three different guises.

You see, there are three games in Hook Worlds. The first of these, Curse of the Watcher, doesn't anything new or wholly unfamiliar to fans of Rocketcat's previous games. A cross between Super Quick Hook's endless Avalanche mode and Hook Champ's story-driven levels, Curse has players using rocketboots and a grappling hook to flee a pursuing ghost. The controls have changed about since Super Quick Hook, but it's still super accessible; a tap on the left or right is all you need to whip through the scenery.

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iPhone Review: Mirror’s Edge

Posted on 19th Sep 2010 at 08:33 by Joe Martin with 1 comments

Joe Martin
I played and previewed Mirror’s Edge on the iPhone ages ago, but for some reason it was an iPad exclusive for ages after that. It’s only just been released on the iPhone recently and, interestingly, while the iPhone version is exactly the same as the iPad one, it also manages to be a better game. I’ve played Mirror’s Edge on both platforms and it’s the smaller of the two which is best.

It’s mainly because of the type of game that Mirror’s Edge is. Like Super Quick Hook it’s a fast-paced racer with exploration elements as you search for secrets and new paths through the levels. The levels are short and slick, flying by in a matter of minutes. It’s a game for filling train journeys, not for keeping your hands busy while you watch TV.

It’s an important and often glossed-over distinction, I think. The iPad is great good for laying on your lap and playing slow games that don’t require constant attention. The iPhone is useful for when you need something to fill the uncomfortable silence in a moving lift full of strangers. The iPad is for Scrabble; the iPhone for Hook Champ and Mirror’s Edge.

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