Category Archives: 4 stars

'Modern Combat 5: Blackout' Single Player Review - Blurring the Lines Between Single and Multiplayer

After months of news, teaser trailers, and hands-on previews, Gameloft’s latest entry in its first-person shooter series is finally here. As was the case with MC4, there’s a lot to look it with this latest sequel, so this first part of the review focuses primarily on the single player campaign and underlying gameplay mechanics. In that regard, Modern Combat 5: Blackout is an excellent sequel that makes some dramatic improvements to said mechanics while keeping the actual FPS action mostly unchanged...

In my review of the game based on Thor: The Dark World [Free], I remarked about how, as a child, I never would have expected Thor of all characters to become a major media star for Marvel. There are always bigger miracles, however. I remember flipping through the pages of a Marvel Handbook when I was in elementary school and coming across Rocket Raccoon. It was my first time seeing him, and to my eyes, he looked stupid. Not just The Shocker-stupid, but genuine, unadulterated Razorback-level stupid. He was the kind of character who you would only see in a Marvel Handbook, with a handful of appearances to his name, doomed to disappear entirely for 15 years of publications. Several years ago, he and many other somewhat forgotten members of Cosmic Marvel returned as a new Guardians of the Galaxy team, in an effort to revamp that part of the Marvel Universe. It was so successful, they've got a live action movie coming out next week, and with it, their very own game. Now, that's improbable...

Mini-game collections, or as they're sometimes known, party games, serve an important if somewhat niche role in gaming. It's safe to say that for most longtime gamers, party games aren't something we're going to be playing terribly often, yet on those rare occasions when you do need one, you really need one, so I suspect most of us keep at least one or two in the standing collection. Gather together four gamers for a party and the sky's the limit for mulitplayer, but if you've got someone in the room who isn't quite so familiar with games, the somewhat shallow and easy-to-learn nature of mini-games is probably the best route to avoid them giving up in frustration. So, like that dusty old Scrabble board you keep in the top shelf of your closet, it's useful to keep a good mini-game collection around for those special occasions...

Generally speaking, RPGs tend to stick to the same sorts of settings and broad plot strokes. Some big evil thing is threatening a typical fantasy world, and it's up to some plucky young guy and his ragtag group of accomplices to defeat the bad guy, save the world, and bring about a happy ending. Even the recent shift towards more dark fantasy settings still has us exploring a fantasy world of some kind, and still usually going after that big evil threat that will end the world. That plot outline loosely describes just about every game released by prolific mobile RPG publisher Kemco, and though I can usually find something interesting in the mechanics to catch my attention, it does get a bit tiresome at times watching the same story play out again and again. Of course, given the rapid pace of releases Kemco works with, a lot of the similarities are down to neccessity, but it's hard to deny that there's a certain stubborn streak running in the genre in spite of a few great counter-examples...

I find myself skeptical of games where spinning around an object and launching off of it is the core gameplay mechanic. Part of it is because the games often make themselves harder than they need to be: angular momentum is a tough concept to grasp and to execute well in a game. Thankfully, Beyond Gravity [$0.99] manages to avoid this trap by making it as accessible as possible...

Siralim [Free], the rookie effort from Thylacine Studios, is hard to fit into a box. Well, it's easy to fit it into a big box. It's definitely an RPG of sorts, but from there, it doesn't fit neatly into any of the sub-genres that we perhaps too gleefully like to use to organize these things. It's an odd fusion of elements, a stew made of up various pieces of different types of RPGs. Games that try this kind of thing run a high risk of ending up with something almost entirely inedible, but on very rare occasions, everything comes together nicely, creating a dish that is both familiar and fresh. You know, I'm kind of hungry. I'm going to get a sandwich and then come back and tell you why Siralim is an awesome game without using food metaphors...

Late last year, a rough little indie platformer named Cally's Caves [Free] won over the hearts of many members of the TouchArcade forums. No sense mincing words, the game's visuals were pretty bad, both in design and execution. That said, the gameplay was fun, the music was excellent, and for reasons I can't exactly understand, the game in its entirety was free, with little more than inobtrusive ads and a single wholly unneccessary IAP to pay the bills. The game featured large, sprawling levels and a less forgiving checkpoint system than today's games typically use, giving the game a pleasantly challenging bite. Well, it hasn't been all that long, but Cally is back in Cally's Caves 2 [Free], and the months have been kind to her. It's still a bit rough around the edges, and in some aspects rougher than the first, but there's no denying the game is a huge step up from the original overall...

'Yomi' Review - A Fighting Card Game

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July 11th, 2014 10:48 AM EDT by Chris Carter in $9.99, 4 stars, Card, Games, iPad Games, Reviews, Universal
$9.99 Buy Now

As soon as people hear the phrase "card game" you'll have a massive amount of people running for the hills, which is a shame. As a big fan of deck-builders like Dominion, as well as battle games like Hearthstone, card games can be extremely entertaining if done right, and are often timeless, especially on an intuitive touch interface...

Major Magnet Arcade [Free] will feel awfully familiar to those who played the original Major Magnet [$1.99], as this is a free-to-play take on that title's gameplay, involving attaching to magnets, spinning and launching around levels to get to the portal at the end. But while it lacks in originality, it actually manages to make some improvements to its gameplay while not being awful with the monetization...

Storm Casters [$1.99] from Get Set Games – yes, the Mega Jump [Free] people – is a fun little take on the hack 'n slash genre. It's essentially Gauntlet meets the cinema classic, Crank. Players have a limited amount of time to rush through levels with hordes of enemies, before the portal that warped them in closes. Thus, there's not much in the way of dawdling about in levels, as it's all about getting to the next room, fighting a boss, and going on before the timer runs out, collecting sweet loot upon the way to buy upgrades, so that the next run can progress further thanks to longer portal times, increased damages, and more potent card effects. And yes, there's a card system in the game, but it is shockingly non-onerous...

Hunted Cow's been a bit nostalgic this year. After making a big return to World War 2 with the recent Tank Battle: East Front [$1.99] series and revisiting ancient warfare with Ancient Battle: Alexander [$3.99], it's making another return to the American Civil War, last visited in Civil War: 1862 [$1.99] late last year. For some, it's probably a bit too soon to go back to a very familiar period, but I'm just happy to get a break from tanks in my mobile war games. As you might expect given the frequency of Hunted Cow's releases, Civil War: 1864 [$4.99] feels very iterative, but there are a couple of differences beyond the expected slate of new missions...

The last three major LEGO releases on iOS certainly represent quite the platter. LEGO The Lord of the Rings [$4.99], as a shared release with the other major handheld game systems, was cut down from the console versions in many respects, offering a few decent-sized hubs but taking out the interesting RPG elements. Still, while some parts were lost, the levels at least stayed fairly faithful to the console title. Then, we got a port of LEGO Star Wars: The Complete Saga [Free], which seemed to be a fairly direct port of the console games and, perhaps significantly, did not release on the 3DS and PlayStation Vita. I've mentioned this in earlier LEGO reviews, but it's worth repeating for context's sake. The entire handheld LEGO line's design is held back by the weakest hardware in the group, and that still, to this very day, includes the original Nintendo DS...

One of the things I've had to get used to about living in Japan is the existence of a rainy season. As I write this review, we're coming off a solid week of rain. It rains all night, it rains all day, breaking just long enough to convince you to leave your house without an umbrella before recommencing in full swing. It's an annoying part of every year because it's really hard to get things done when it's raining all the time. The positive side of that situation is that sometimes you really can't get anything done, and you are kind of forced to relax inside your house with nothing but time on your hands, a bit of a rarity in adult life. I have no idea if it was the intention of the developer, but Rainblocks [Free], the new puzzle game from Subaku [$1.99] creator Let's Playing, very much feels like a rainy day in some ways...

Card battles and rogue-likes probably aren’t a combination you necessarily think about, but that’s exactly what you get in Dream Quest [$2.99]. It may sound weird, but it actually works very well, with some potentially deep gameplay that keeps you coming back for more. Unfortunately, outside of the battle system there’s a lot to be desired, but Dream Quest still has enough going for it to be worth exploring...

With as many puzzle-platformers as there are on iOS, a title really need to do something to earn some limelight. Crescent Moon Games' Twisty Planets [$1.99] earns its attention in a couple of ways. Its world-turning element is well done and certainly adds a different perspective to the genre. Meanwhile its variety in levels and emphasis on gradual difficulty give players motivation to continue playing. It all leads to a fun platformer worth enjoying...

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