IVG App Review Round-up (04/05/12)

There are lots of apps to choose from, and there is only so much space in your device and money in your bank. So to lend you a helping hand with your mobile app purchases, we kick off with IVG App Round-up, a weekly feature, where we will talk about a few of the latest releases on the iTunes App Store and the Google Play Store and share our views on them. This week we have four apps lined up for you:

Dead Trigger
By Rishi Alwani

Platforms: Android, iOS; Price: Free
Version tested: Android

On close inspection of Dead Trigger, you’ll realise why the surrounding controversy is more entertaining than the game itself. Sure, Mad Finger has made a gorgeous looking game. Everything from water effects to guns look near, if not at, console quality. Taking a page out of the dusty old book of PC gaming, you can adjust the graphical settings to suit your phone. My Galaxy Nexus defaulted at low settings, but ran at high with barely a hiccup.

The premise involves you serving up bullets to zombies in the face. This leaves no room for something different and the story itself is a threadbare excuse and explains why the enemies seem to be created as an afterthought. There’s very little to separate one from the next. Narrative nitpickings aside, while the graphics do their best to pull you in, the controls do the opposite. Even after fine tuning the sensitivity slider umpteen times, it still feels sluggish.

Dead Trigger shows off a brilliant engine, but that’s about it. It’s nice to tom-tom in front of your console and PC loving brethren, but Mad Finger should have borrowed other cues from contemporaries that extend beyond mere production values.

5/10

Tentacle Wars
Review by Amit Goyal

Platforms: iOS; Price: $0.99

Tentacle Wars catches your eye with its unique art and incredibly atmospheric music. The premise does not do much beyond setting up the gameplay in this action-strategy game. You take control of a dying alien on a microscopic level. The battlefield is the cellular landscape of this alien, which has been contaminated by foreign agents.

Each level requires you to gain control of infected cells by using the antibody cells of the organism. Each cell has a certain amount of energy associated with it (depicted by a numerical value), and can attack infected cells by releasing tentacles that attach to the infected cells and drain their energy. When their energy level hits zero, you take control of the cell.

The gameplay, however, is not as straightforward as that. The infected cells counterattack, leading to a war between tentacles as each tries to overwhelm the other. To make things interesting, if a cell is left alone, it slowly gains energy and becomes more formidable, gaining the number of tentacles it can deploy at the same time.

The game adds additional depth through boosts – by slicing the tentacles with a swipe of a finger, the player can send an energy surge to cause massive damage to an infected cell. This can also be used to retract tentacles to reinforce the antibody cell’s energy when under attack.

With 40 interesting single-player levels and a player vs player online mode, Tentacle Wars is a must buy for anyone looking for a unique and challenging gameplay experience on their iPhone or iPad.

8/10

Bucketz
By Amit Goyal

Platforms: iOS; Price: $1.99

Bucketz tries very hard to be cool; and that, probably, is its biggest drawback. Picnic Hippo Studios put in a lot of effort in presentation – the game looks bright, colourful and gorgeous, and it’s also put in a fully voiced story with its quirky bucket characters.

But it could have used some better writers. Humour, in my opinion, is the toughest to write and most of the banter between Bucketz before the start of a level mostly falls flat, to the point where I simply stopped paying attention after the first few levels.

The gameplay itself is simple and frantic. You have a bunch of Bucketz sitting on a balance. As objects fly across the screen, the task is to fill as many objects as possible in the buckets, by holding an object and swiping it into the bucket, without tipping the scales in one direction. Objects come in different sizes and weights, as do the buckets, and that must be taken into consideration while filling them up.

In addition, the game has nuisances such as smoke bombs and minions that complicate matters, and upgradable buffs such as auto-balancing and slowing down time. It also features a boss fight at the end of each chapter to add a bit of variety and to move the story forward.

The game does not require any strategy or skill as such, and is usually a frantic dash to pile in as many objects into the buckets, while keeping the scales balanced. It’s fun for a while, but gets old pretty fast.

That said, it might still fly with you if you’re looking for something mindless for a short wait before a meeting. Or if you’ve recently been dumped, imagining the buckets to be your ex’s head and slamming objects on them could turn out to be an immensely satisfying experience. But for two dollars, you can get both Tentacle Wars and Asphalt 7, which is far greater value than Bucketz can ever be, especially with all those lame jokes.

5/10

CSR Racing
By Sameer Desai

Platforms: iOS; Price: Free

Everyone wants to make freemium games these days, and it was only a matter of time before developers started exploiting the system and ignoring the ‘free’ part. CSR Racing is a classic example of this. It’s a drag racing game, where the only control you have is on gear shifts. It starts you off with just enough cash to buy one car and then gives you a variety of events to enter.

In most freemium games, you’ll reach a point where spending real world money becomes a necessity to avoid grinding. In CSR Racing though, you’ll hit that wall in your very first session. Once you start encountering tougher opposition, simply equipping upgrades to your car won’t be enough; you’ll have to buy a better car. To do that though, you’ll need gold coins (and not the cash you’ve been saving up), which the game is very stingy in giving up. Very few can be earned from progression, so buying them becomes the only real option.

That would be alright if turning that option down and grinding was a realistic and fun option, or if the game didn’t coax you into spending that gold on every other little thing. Bought a new car? Spend X gold to have it delivered to you immediately or wait a few hours. Having trouble beating your next opponent? Spend X gold and the mechanic will give you a performance boost. The cheapest trick of them all is the gas system. Each time you participate in an event, you use up gas. Once your tank is empty (5-6 events), you’ll have to stop playing while it refuels. Or wait! You can spend X gold to refuel immediately.

CSR Racing looks great and it’s well presented, but its overly aggressive approach to micro-transactions is a complete turn-off. It feels more like a demo for a paid game.

6/10

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One Response to “IVG App Review Round-up (04/05/12)”

  1. [...] I’ve been stabbing my smartphone to shoot zombies in the face in Dead Trigger, ending with results that are a little less than dismal. I would be ploughing through Uncharted 3 had Sony made hardware [...]

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