Sunday, March 6, 2011

Three iOS Game Reviews

I've got three games to review for the iOS (All played on an iPod Touch 4G 8GB), and they are Angry Birds, Women's Murder Club: Death in Scarlet and Mass Effect: Galaxy. I'll start with Women's Murder Club as it's the most recently completed.

Women's Murder Club: Death in Scarlet

As someone new to Women's Murder Club, I wasn't sure what to expect beyond being a hidden object game. I've written my thoughts on the game recently, and I finished it today so it'll simply be an addition to that.

This game is not worth £1.19. The music, whilst good and appropriate, is very repetitive and becomes almost annoying. The gameplay is ridiculously repetitive and reuses the same scenes a number of times, with five being a low guess at how often the most used scenes crop up. The art style changes frequently and for little reason. The controls are finnicky and tempermental, and it hasn't been updated to take advantage of more recent developments for the iOS (Such as multitasking), so every time you enter into the game you have to sit through the intro videos. To finish it off, the ending just happens, and it's very disappointing. I don't feel like I solved the murder.

It's really not worth the price they're charging on the App Store. If it went on sale, or if you see the double-pack with another game (I forget which one), then sure, I'd tenatively say get it, but if you pay £1.19 you will be disappointed.

Angry Birds

Probably the single most successful game to date on the iOS. Do I like it? Yes, but at the same time, I hate it. I will say buy it, I will say it's a must-have, but I will also say that it will frustrate you, and you will get annoyed with it. The difficulty, especially in the later chapters, is a bit all over the place and a level may stump you for days, but the next few will be a breeze. The scoring system is quite ambiguous, too, so I would advise most people to just ignore it unless they want to replay levels.

The 'Mighty Eagle' add-on for the game is a must have, too, because it will allow you to progress through the game quicker than you would normally be able to. I will stress that at the time of writing, the add-on is bugged and will notify you when the Eagle is available again (It has a 1hr cooldown between uses) regardless of whether you allow notifications or not.

It's worth the entry fee, and you shouldn't be without it. Get it regardless of whether you like these types of games, because you will enjoy it.

Mass Effect: Galaxy

I bought this because I'm a bit of a fangirl when it comes to Mass Effect, and I just had to have it. The game takes place between Mass Effect 1 and 2, and revolves around your first two Mass Effect companions – Miranda Lawson (The poster-girl for the game) and Jacob Taylor – with you taking the position of Jacob. There's a mix of old-school shooting and dialogue scenes, and it's pretty faithful to the series in that it's story-driven.

However, that's where it ends. The shooting section of the game is horrifically sub-par, and the dialogue wheel is very easy to misunderstand or accidentally misuse. The shooting uses the accelerometer of the iPod/iPhone as a control method. Tilt away to move 'up', tilt towards to move 'down', tilt left to move 'left', right to move 'right'. You get the idea. It means that positioning yourself is very important for this game, as is how you hold the device. You won't have much luck playing this on the bus; You'd be better sat at your desk or on your bed.

The shooting is very much automated, in a retro 2D top-down style. If a target is selected, and you're in range, Jacob will shoot automatically. Your input decides which targets he shoots (You have to select them by touching them) and which attacks he uses (He has a rocket, a 'tech' attack and a 'biotic' attack). Combined with the movement controls, it creates a bit of a mess that can make the game very, very frustrating to play. There will be fights where you die 5-10 times before you manage to get through to the end

As for the dialogue wheel and the story? Well, as far as BioWare go, it's a very low-key story and it's nice to see how Jacob and Miranda met and worked together. They both seem fairly true to their Mass Effect 2 counterparts, and it helps bolster the game. The dialogue wheel is a problem, though. You have to drag it to select your choices, and it's very easy to accidentally select the wrong option. Like the other games, you are able to delve deeper into conversations, but one option (With a fist icon) will drop you straight into combat.

Overall, I think Mass Effect: Galaxy is a hit-and-miss title. The inclusion of the voice actors (Albeit only for a few lines here and there) is great, the art style is a bit off (The cutscenes are fairly poorly done; Actual animation would have been better in my opinion), and the actual gameplay is a mixed bag. I would really only recommend this to fans of the Mass Effect series as a lot of the story would be lost on those who don't know the series. As for the bonus it's advertised as having; Forget about it. It's inconsequential and really shouldn't drive this purchase. Get it if you're a Mass Effect fan; forget about it if you're not.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Thoughts On "Women's Murder Club: Death in Scarlet" (iOS)

Death in Scarlet is a hidden object game based on James Patterson's "Women's Murder Club" series of books, and it puts you into the shoes of the characters from the novels as you attempt to solve a murder. For those not in the know, hidden object games are pretty much as the name implies - You have a 'scene' and you have to find items from a list; Usual fare includes keys, tools and other objects.

So, what's it like? Well... It's not great, but it's not exactly terrible, although it could be better. The gameplay is ridiculously repetitive, even for hidden object games. Many of the scenes are recycled a number of times with minimal changes in the position of items (If any change) with little variation in the list you have to find. For example, one scene is of a police officer's desk, and I must have been there about four times at this point, perhaps even five. The art style changes, too. Mostly it's 'realistic' art, but it does go to photographs/CG sometimes and I've even seen some panels that seemed to be taken from the pages of a comic.

Technically it's not perfect, either. There's no Retina support, but it doesn't look bad on the iPod Touch 4G as it upsizes quite nicely. I also feel that it's got a bit of a problem with detecting where you've touched the screen; Often it'd be a few millimetres out, making the smaller items a little frustrating to pick up. A few scenes are also very dark, and combined with the darkness and size of some objects it can be quite frustrating to get everything you need.

Are there actually any good points to this game? Well, I suppose. The music is quite fitting, although it's quite repetitive.

Uh... Yeah. I'm actually not disliking this game despite the huge number of flaws. Strange, huh?