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IVG App Review Round-up (24/2/13)

This week, we have a clunky physics-based puzzler, a vehicular stunt game with zombies, a pretty platformer, and an atrocious (surprise!) movie tie-in.

be-together

Be Together

Platforms: iOS; Price: Rs 55

Every physics-based puzzle game is an idiosyncrasy in itself; it breaks one set of rules of the world to preserve another. So, birds without wings hurl themselves at pigs without legs in perfectly collapsing structures, and all sorts of contraptions work in harmony inside a box conspiring to feed a tiny beast with an insatiable appetite for candy.

Or in the case of Be Together, two tiny round creatures in love with each other are only capable of rolling, relying on the player moving around a few helpful props to get them together. The various props allow the player to create or manipulate the momentum built by the movement. Each level begins with the two creatures on different parts of the screen and multiple props at the player’s disposable to place in order to unite them. After placing the props, the player hits play to watch the action unfurl.

In terms of difficulty, the levels require a few retries to complete, especially as difficulty and the number of props in the levels increase. Additionally, each level has three stars to collect, which adds an extra layer of challenge to the game. The player does not need to collect all stars in order to progress, but further levels are unlocked after a minimum number of stars are collected.

The game does well by giving the player enough time to get familiar with a prop before introducing a new one. However, the game never feels as intuitive and well-paced as games like Angry Birds and Cut the Rope, mostly due to the two-tiered nature of the gameplay. It often takes far too long to get the props just right in order to complete a level, which may lead to frustration.

For puzzle game fans, it is an interesting distraction, but be ready for a lot of trial and error.

6/10

zombie-road-trip

Zombie Road Trip

Platforms: iOS, Android; Price: Free

If a rabid horde of zombies was chasing me through a post-apocalyptic wasteland, pulling off stunts with my vehicle would be the last priority. But Spokko’s Zombie Road Trip incentives players to do just that, because that’s the only way to prolong your survival.

The game is played in two dimensions, where you drive away from a massive angry horde of zombies on uneven terrain. The car moves forward automatically, and the player can flip the car clockwise or counter-clockwise while it is in the air. The idea is to perform these flips and land without losing too much momentum to earn boost. When your boost meter fills up, you power ahead of the horde.

Along the way, there are zombies both on land and in the air, which the player can shoot by tapping on the screen. If the player collides with these zombies, or doesn’t land well, the zombie horde inches closer to the player.

It is an interesting concept marred by some balancing issues. For one, the zombies that appear in front of you come too quickly and too frequently, breaking momentum far too many times, leading to frustration. The car itself feels too floaty and never quite in control. All these things come together to make each game too short and often exasperating. The player can unlock better vehicles and equip better weapons by earning coins, but that takes far too long unless the player buys coins using the in-app store (which I expect was the plan all along). While that in itself is alright, I feel the developers have been overly aggressive in pushing IAP, which has resulted in an overall inferior experience.

5/10

rock-runners

Rock Runners

Platforms: iOS; Price: 55

Rock Runners is a fast-paced side-scrolling platformer that is way easier than it might look. It features a one-touch control scheme used for jumping as you navigate across over a hundred levels. The running is on auto-pilot, and tapping on the screen makes the player jump. Holding down on the jump button makes you jump farther. The player collects gems while traversing a level, and collecting a prerequisite number of gems activates turbo, making the player run faster.

Turbo remains active as long as the player does not stumble, which usually happens if you mis-time a jump and hit a wall or a side of a platform. The game is rather simple, and hardly presents a challenge in terms of survival or completion. The challenge lies in achieving all three stars in a level, one of which is tied to completing it, and one to completing a level within a fixed amount of time. The third star usually requires the player to collect a percentage of gems in a level, or to not stumble or take damage. Some of the levels marked with a skull present a greater degree of challenge. The store elements, however, are very helpful in countering any challenges presented by the game and it is simple to power through the game with all three stars in every level.

Through the store elements, the player can activate gem magnets or become immune to damage or stumbling for a fixed number of times. The generosity with which the game gives you gems, however, makes it very comfortable to keep yourself loaded with these benefits. So if you’re looking for a challenge like Rayman: Jungle Run, this is not the game for you. Nevertheless, the pace at which the levels go by and the excellently colourful art, coupled with a nice depth of field to all the levels that make them great to look at still make this game a fun distraction and worth the money.

7/10

die-hard

Die Hard

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

Die Hard is one of those free games not worth wasting your time or bandwidth on (no surprises there, right?). Developed squarely as an after-thought for the promotion plan of A Good Day To Die Hard, the game puts you in the shoes of Jack McClane, who goes on endless, mindless runs, killing people for no rhyme or reason. Probably. I would have been able to say for sure if I could get past the first few guys who came to kill me.

Die Hard is an on-rails shooter played from the third-person perspective. Jack can switch between five lanes to supposedly come in position to shoot (or even to avoid bullets). The first problem comes with the ammunition itself. Equipped with a pistol, the bullets run out quickly, and there is no indication of when or how to maximise accuracy. Whether a bullet hits the guy in front you seems to be decided by some sort of dice roll, and more often than not, I found myself right in the face of my enemy with the need to reload. Adding to the woe are thugs with shotguns and deadly aim thrown right in the beginning of the game.

You could collect or buy Roubles, of course, for various perks and better weapons, but the menus have been designed so poorly that I couldn’t figure out how to equip a better gun. For the sheer amount of frustration that it brings, I cannot recommend this game in any capacity even though it’s free.

1/10

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