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IVG App Review Round-up (08/09/12)

Something new, something old, and something familiar – all vying for your attention on this week’s app round-up. But none quite as engaging as Yellow Monkey Studios’ excellent puzzler Huebrix, which we reviewed yesterday. So let’s begin.

Bomb Panic

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

Bomb Panic is based on the classic formula of whack-a-mole, where moles appear randomly in slots for a limited time and must be whacked with a hammer. The more you hit, the more you score at the end of the time limit.

Bomb Panic replaces the moles with bombs, appearing in slots in a grid of nine that must be tapped before they go off. To make things interesting, the game has multiple types of bomb. You have your standard bomb that must be tapped, pencil bombs that must be rubbed out, spiked bombs that can only be tapped when the spikes disappear, and the devilishly fiendish arrow bomb, where the player must tap the cell where the bomb is pointing, rather than the cell where it appears.

The player has limited lives, and tapping the wrong cell or a bomb going off results in the loss of a life. The game features both levels and an endless mode. The game also includes weapons, such as a cleaver that can take out multiple bombs, that last for a limited time and can be used when things get hairy. And boy do they get hairy fast!

After the first couple of levels to ease you in, the game’s difficulty jumps sharply, especially with the appearance of the arrow bombs. The power-ups do help a bit and are upgradeable to last longer as you earn experience by playing more, but at lower levels, they last for too short a time to make a big impact, and the game can be a great source of consternation especially during ‘panic time’ at the end of a level.

This could be an attempt to push players to buy more upgrades or the Pro Mode (that also features more levels and new bombs) through IAP. However, the difficulty, as it stands, may put some players off the game before they even consider putting their money on it.

6/10

The Last Driver

Platforms: iOS; Price: Free

The Last Driver is based on the Zombie Highway formula – you steer your car through a post-apocalyptic zombie infested city, try to avoid obstacles in order to not damage your car, kill zombies by running over them, and even shoot them with a gun mounted on top of your car. Unlike Zombie Highway, the bigger threat here than the zombies is the obstacles milling around on the road.

The game is dynamic in throwing these obstacles at you. Cars will suddenly drive around corners and crash; boulders will come rolling down towards you, and bridges will collapse. There’s even a Tyrannosaurus Rex, though it doesn’t do more than just walk by. The zombies can mostly be avoided, gunned down or run over. There are some zombies that must be killed from a distance to avoid damage, and the occasional one will even come and latch on to your car.

The game also features a garage where you can improve the performance of your car, increase your ammo and your jump capacity (the car can be made to jump with a press of a button a limited number of times), and even buy new cars. Progression is mapped through tiered objectives in a manner similar to Jetpack Joyride.

All this could have come together in an extremely engaging package, but small things hold the game back. The car feels too heavy and stiff, especially with the standard control scheme with buttons mapped to steering. Switching to tilt alleviates this to some extent, but you will still find it a chore, especially in segments that require sharp steering.

The game also lacks the sense of urgency that comes by way of environment, something done rather well by Zombie Highway and even EndApp. The graphics are neat, the World is burning, but you’ll never quite get that sense from the game, which, in my opinion, takes a lot away from the game. Considering it’s free, it’s well worth checking out, but don’t be surprised if this apocalypse is a little too tedious for your taste.

5/10

Slingshot Racing

Platforms: iOS; Price: $0.99

Slingshot Racing is an interesting take on the racing genre. Instead of steering, the player must sling around pivots placed at turns of a racetrack. The game employs a single touch control scheme – acceleration is automatic, and touching the screen deploys a rope that latches on to a pivot for the duration of the touch, making your car turn. The windy course is navigated by timing these slingshots around curves in this top-down racer.

The game features a career mode, where different tours are unlocked based on the performance in previous ones. The player can earn up to three bolts in every event within a tour depending on his performance. Apart from the standard race, the game also features other events such as timed events, where the player must take a fixed number of laps around the circuit in the minimum possible time, and a mode where the player must collect bolts spread around the circuit in the least amount of time possible.

The game also features a multiplayer mode, where friends can either compete locally or over Game Centre. However, standard online multiplayer is not available. It is also worth noting that the game does not feature in-app purchases in any form, so you get everything there is to it in the 99 Cents you shell out on it.

Slingshot racing is essentially a one-trick pony, and hence how much you like the game is heavily dependent on how much joy you get out of timing your slingshots around a circuit. The circuits are intentionally curvy to keep the player engaged, but in my opinion, a tad too short and could have used some variety in the form of more power-ups to pick up than the rudimentary speed boost that is available. I would suggest trying out the free trial version, called Slingshot Trials, before putting your money on the game.

6/10

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