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Archive for the ‘iphone’ tag

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 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: 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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iPhone Review: Predators

Posted on 9th Jul 2010 at 10:00 by Joe Martin with 8 comments

Joe Martin
The Predator franchise has a spotty history when it comes to videogames, ranging from the giddy and gory heights of the original AVP to the abominable lows of Concrete Jungle on the PS2. So, our hopes weren’t high for the iPhone game based on the new Adrian Brody movie, Predators.

As it turns out, that’s just as well too. Predators isn’t actually a bad game, but it’d be a stretch to say that it’s a really good one. The Appstore is practically overflowing with arcade survival games these days and though Predators is functional and fun, it doesn’t really stand out all that much.

Predators on the iPhone is a fairly predictable affair, essentially a mission based survival game of the arcade variety. Each mission is slightly different, but the basic premise is always the same – as a lone Predator you have to prove your worth by besting armed humans. The specific objectives vary each time, so sometimes it’s a matter of surviving for X amount of time and sometimes it’s about scoring certain types of kills, but the underlying gameplay is always the same.

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iPhone Review: Chaos Rings

Posted on 4th Jun 2010 at 10:59 by Joe Martin with 8 comments

Joe Martin
Square Enix has been one of the best major publishers on the iPhone, bringing some solid ports of the early Final Fantasy games, as well as some more original games exclusive to the iPhone. Chaos Rings sits neatly between those two ideas; since it’s basically a Final Fantasy game exclusive to the iPhone.

Well, OK, it’s not technically a Final Fantasy game – it’s lacking the FF prefix and there’s probably all sorts of smaller stylistic changes I’m not familiar with, but as far as a layman is concerned it’s basically the same. It’s stuffed with random encounters, old-school turn-based combat and characters with strange names, stupid hair and a penchant for muttering to themselves like old alcoholics.

Crucially too, while the boiled down description of ‘it’s just Final Fantasy on the iPhone” may sound like a bad thing, in reality it really, really isn’t. Chaos Rings is actually quite brilliant.

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Free Games I Like: Choice of Broadsides

Posted on 28th May 2010 at 11:02 by Joe Martin with 40 comments

Joe Martin
You can do a lot with the written word and I find it endlessly interesting that even the most beautiful and graphically demanding games are often judged on the quality of the script. GTA IV was praised for its serious story before anyone remarked on how big the world was, while Crysis is often slammed for the way the experience is wounded by awful dialogue.

With that in mind, please don’t be put off that my latest favourite freebie is a text-only adventure, because if you dismiss it out of hand then you’d be missing out on a great little title. A word can make a thousand pictures and all that.

Essentially a multiple choice adventure, Choice of Broadsides casts you as a young officer in the navy of Albion, a fictional country which is basically a stand-in for England. At the start of the game you’re but a junior shipmate, but through your actions you get the chance to woo eligible ladies, orchestrate naval battles, deal with mutinies and do all the other stuff that an 18th Century naval officer would do.

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First Look: Mirror's Edge iPhone

Posted on 19th Mar 2010 at 10:41 by Joe Martin with 7 comments

Joe Martin
I’m really glad that EA is continuing to develop the Mirror’s Edge series, even on the iPhone. A lot of people poo-pooed the original for being too short and for annoying combat, but it wasn’t something I had a problem with. The fighting wasn’t great, but it served the purpose of slowing the game down a bit. The game may have been short, but it was also very replayable.

I’m pretty happy then that EA’s iPhone version of the game, which I got a chance to see yesterday, is treading along the same grounds. Combat is only a minor part of the game; little more than a distraction really, and the game is short but replayable. That last fact is doubly important for a mobile game.

In other areas though, an awful lot of the game has changed. The limits of the iPhone processing power has meant a change to a side-on perspective, though Mirror’s Edge on the iPhone still manages to retain 3D visuals. Here the simple, stylised look of the series work to EA’s advantage – there’s no need for detailed textures and the like.

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The Greatest Gadget

Posted on 5th Mar 2010 at 11:32 by Joe Martin with 19 comments

Joe Martin
We got some new gadgets the other day, when Creative swung by the office and were nice enough to deposit some of their new gear for us to take a look at. I was particularly taken by the new Creative Vado HD, which is a small digital camcorder. It’s really a rather fantastic bit of kit, to be honest.

The Vado HD is smaller and thinner than my wallet (but not lighter than it, ho-ho!) and really simple to use. It’s got a built in USB cable that tucks out of the way nicely, plus a port for plugging in headphones, speakers etc. The screen is a good quality and the battery and storage can manage about two hours of HD recording from a single full charge. Stonking stuff.

The only really problem with it in fact are the little touch sensitive buttons, which can be a little fiddly. Other than that it’s an instant-on, high quality digital camcorder. It’s wonderful but, as I played with it at home last night, it struck me that it’s still by far not the best gadget I own.

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Free Games I Like: Black Shades

Posted on 17th Nov 2009 at 08:25 by Joe Martin with 1 comments

Joe Martin
Black Shades isn’t a new game, it’s just a free game that I really like. It’s basically the opposite of Hitman, but reduced down to twitch shooter basics and presented in a typically indie way.

Rather than playing as a hitman, Black Shades casts you as a bodyguard for a VIP who's wandering aimlessly through a crowded city. It’s your job to protect him from the increasing number of assailants who will try to kill him.

What distinguishes Black Shades from that old trope of the FPS escort mission is that the VIP is pursuing a random path through a city which is basically an infinite grid of buildings. Also, the assassins who come from him are randomly generated and will use a variety of weapons and approaches. Oh, and nearly everyone in the city looks alike too – grey and white polygon figures.

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