Archive for the ‘iPhone/iPad/iPod’ Category

Assassin’s Creed: Altair’s Chronicles should look somewhat familiar to you. It was released in 2008 on the Nintendo DS and in 2009 for iPhone. And now Gameloft has ported the adventure to Android.

If you were a fan of Ubisoft’s ambitious Xbox 360/PlayStation 3 production, you know the set-up. An assassin named Altair is scouring the Holy Land for the means to bring down the Templar knights, an organization with sinister designs on the world in this narrative. The iPhone game serves as a prequel to the console game. Altair is in search of a specific artifact called “The Chalice,” which possibly has the power to bring the ugly Crusades to an early, merciful end. But seeking this relic raises more questions than it answers, setting up the console game, which I consider to have one of the best fictions in videogames in quite some time despite its uneven game mechanics.

As Altair, you must use your stealth abilities to seek the Chalice. The rooftops, awning, and beams that stretch across the grand cities of the medieval Holy Land are your playground. Careful movement above the sandy streets will keep you out of harm’s way for the most part, although occasionally you must descend to the avenues below and draw blood. Altair has a sword that can be upgraded, but there are other devices and items he uses in his quest, such as a grappling hook and bombs. Altair’s signature weapon, though, is his hidden dagger that is used to silently execute enemies and not raise the alarm of dozens of guards and Templar reinforcements.

As you explore the Holy Land, you will pick up hundreds of blue orbs that can be traded in for upgrades, such as expanding Altair’s health bar or the aforementioned sword. Personally, I tended to lean on sword upgrades because I wanted to make sure I could overpower enemies in any combat situation. I would accidentally blow a stealth situation by walking through a crowd too fast or stumble off a rooftop and land on the street below, just within striking distance of a Templar.

Naturally, this raises the issue of control. I think the control stick here is a little looser which does prevent absolute precision and will cause occasional mishaps, but for the most part, I really don’t have any major problems with how the game handles. The combat buttons work great, although the shield button placement over by the control stick is awkward. While there are some automated actions, like scrambling up a wall, I do wish that some small jumps were also self-propelled. The jump button works without a problem, but an auto-jump would help casual gamers by taking one less button out of the mix.

One feature in Assassin’s Creed I do not care for, though, are the minigames. I think they are pointless holdovers from the DS version. They felt tacked-on back then, like Gameloft was trying to integrate the DS touchscreen some way… any way. They don’t fare much better here. They function, but add nothing to the overall game. They feel gimmicky in a game that needs no gimmicks.

As mentioned earlier in the review, Assassin’s Creed looks fantastic. Everything — from the textures on Altair’s robes to the crackling fire effects — is brighter, crisper, and more detailed in this edition of the game versus the DS. However, Assassin’s Creed is not necessarily the smoothest play on a Droid. There is some framerate chugging here and there that mars the experience. However, some users have mentioned that Creed runs better on newer handsets. (ign)

Published by: Gameloft
Developed by: Gameloft
Genre: Action
Release Date: US: September 13, 2010
Also Available On: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, PC,Wireless, iPhone, Android
Also known as: Assassin’s Creed


Shark or Die (Android)

Posted: September 16, 2010 in iPhone/iPad/iPod
Tags: , ,

As you might imagine, you are the titular shark in Shark or Die – and you’re on a single-minded mission: eat people. But though you have a simple goal, things are never that easy for a ravenous killer of the deep. You must make sure you don’t cause too many waves by quickly jetting between meals, for example. Let your food settle a little, or else you send those innocent appetizers swimming away in a panic. And if you don’t eat enough on a regular basis, well, expect to go belly up.

There is a little bit of shark management to busy yourself with, too. The more humans you inhale, the more upgrades you can buy for your shark, such as increased speed. And you should always be on the lookout for VIP swimmers (noted by celeb-shark names such as Sharkira). If you eat one of those, you get a little fuller…. which inches you closer to the next stage.

I expected Shark or Die to become repetitive after a while and was not necessarily let down when it indeed happened. But there really are enough secondary gameplay wrinkles in here – such as swimming directly at a human may cause them to scream, which alerts nearby swimmers to flee – to keep things interesting for far longer than expected. And I liked to colorful, crisp art as well as the good sound effects. Shark or Die’s music tip-toes right up to the line of copying the Jaws theme within stepping over it. (ign)

Published by: Handy Games
Developed by: Handy Games
Genre: Action
Release Date: US: August 26, 2010
Also Available On: iPhone

Grand Theft Auto, one of the biggest franchises in videogames, now rides shotgun on iPad. A port of the PlayStation Portable edition of Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars (which was in turn a port of a Nintendo DS game), the iPad version is a phenomenal play.

You are Huang Lee, the spoiled son of a Triad ganglord. After your father was murdered, you must deliver an ancient sword to your uncle so as to keep the empire in your family’s name. Ambushed at the Liberty City airport and left to die, you now find yourself drawn into the underworld with thoughts of vengeance. But what starts out as a simple revenge tale grows in scope, with a criminal world about to explode as gangs (and cops) square off for control. The Chinatown Wars narrative is strong, full of both humor and real drama, and benefits from excellent writing.

Instead of a 3D behind-the-shoulder view, Chinatown Wars returns to the top-down roots of the pre-PlayStation 2 GTA games. The art style is cartoonish and looks fantastic. The camera gives you a good view of the city around you, and unlike the iPhone version which allowed you to get too far ahead of yourself if you started going really fast, the iPad provides ample space around Lee. It’s great to see one of the few problems with the iPhone edition solved by making smart use of the benefits of the iPad.

Chinatown Wars uses a virtual stick for on-foot movement that is just about as good as you’ll find on the iDevices. Combat controls would benefit from some sort of targeting system, but I experienced few problems with digging into a violent crew and trading bullets or putting shoe prints on their faces. When driving, though, you default to a pair of arrows for turning left and right, which you use in conjunction with gas and brake pedal buttons. All of the virtual buttons (gas, shoot, kick, carjack) are also now just the right size. (They were too small on the iPhone.) However, until you get the hang of things, you often must look at the buttons to make sure you are hitting the right one. In the middle of a big fight or a high-speed pursuit, this is troublesome until you are 100-percent comfortable with the controls. The menus have also been cleaned up a little for the iPad.

The mission variety in Chinatown Wars is one of its strongest features. You are not just driving to a location, shooting somebody, and then returning to home base. You perform in a parade, hijack fuel tankers to turn into giant bombs, run interference during a race, and put out fires. And on top of the main story, there is a plethora of side jobs and races, including the extra content that was included with the PSP port. But most surprising is the drug dealing. I’m not just shocked that Apple was cool with heroin (other games have been rejected for drug- and alcohol-related content), but just how vital it is to the overall game. If you want to make money, you have to juggle this resource management game-within-a-game where you buy low, sell high, and watch out for busts.

Another Chinatown Wars high point: the GPS system. Tapping locations on a map to set a course is intuitive and makes finding your way around town easy. Of course, getting there isn’t necessarily a cakewalk, as you must watch for cops on the lookout for the new kid with the high wanted level. All of the touch screen elements from the DS original are pulled into the iPhone Chinatown Wars, too, such as kicking out the back window of a car in the water, interacting with computers, scratching lotto tickets, or hot wiring a car.

Finally, Chinatown Wars does not have the same kind of licensed music as other GTA games. Instead, it has a series of five stations that play genre instrumentals, like hip-hop and dance. I actually like this quite a bit; over time, I found the licensed music in the GTA games almost look-at-me distracting. You can also create a custom station with your own music, which is cool if you want to shoot up Chinatown while listening to Dean Martin.

I already mentioned that the raised camera and extra screen size of the iPad makes it easier to play Chinatown Wars on iPad. But I must also stress just how insanely good this HD edition looks, too. Rockstar refreshed almost everything for this port, cleaning things up so they look sharp on the large, higher-resolution screen. The attention to detail combined with the cel shaded-esque art direction makes Chinatown Wars one of the best-looking iPad games to date. (ign)

Published by: Rockstar Games
Developed by: Rockstar Games
Genre: Third-Person Action
Release Date: US: September 9, 2010
Also Available On: PSP, iPhone,Nintendo DS, iPad
Also known as: GTA: Chinatown Wars

Time Crisis 2nd Strike (iPhone)

Posted: September 16, 2010 in iPhone/iPad/iPod
Tags: ,

Time Crisis 2nd Strike PictureTime Crisis 2nd Strike is Namco’s latest iPhone adaptation of its popular light gun series – and things are still a little screwy. As an ace super agent hot on the trail of a gang of terrorists, you must tap-tap-tap your way out of dangerous situations against waves of gunmen. But there is a little more to the shooting gallery than tapping the bad guys to death. Using on-screen pedals, you must also duck out of the way to avoid incoming fire and reload your weapons. This adds a slight element of strategy to Time Crisis 2nd Strike. But it doesn’t fill the void caused by some weirdly frustrating action.

Each mission is broken down into a series of vignettes, each only 15 or so seconds long. You need to get through each section before time runs out. To finish a vignette, kill everybody in the immediate area. This adds time to the clock, giving you a better chance of making it through all of the areas within that mission. You can burn all of your time if you miss an enemy and have to wait for him to pop back out into the open (terrorists are smart enough to duck away from time to time), so there is an element of pattern memorization here.

Time Crisis 2nd Strike PictureShooting is as simple as tapping an enemy. Some can be taken down with a single shot, but others require you to really cop a feel. Two problems pop up here. One, as you reach across the screen to tap a bad guy, you can inadvertently cover up another enemy who will either shoot you or go back into hiding, leaving you desperately scanning the screen as your clock runs down. The second issue is precision. Some of the bad guys lurk in the distance and can appear very small. This makes them easy to miss. Sure, it’s supposed to be harder to hit distant targets – that’s kinda the point – but your index finger is not necessarily a precision tool.

I do appreciate that Namco added extra weapons to Time Crisis 2nd Strike like a machinegun, shotgun, and grenade launcher. Using the shotgun, for example, means you don’t have to be as precise – but this does not exactly rectify the distance issue because a shotgun is more of a close-quarters weapon. I also really like the pedal system for ducking away from the action to reload. During this time, you lose about 50-percent of your viewing angle and can miss the location of bad guys. That’s completely understandable because, well, you’re ducking. It’s when you miss an enemy because of your hand that Time Crisis 2nd Strike frustrates.

Time Crisis 2nd Strike also includes a competitive mode when you blaze through the main game, allowing you to go for the best scores or times. That’s a good extra, too, but because I’m not crazy about the action in the first place, this is not something I foresee spending a lot of time with beyond the review period. (ign)

  • Published by: Namco Networks
  • Developed by: Namco Networks
  • Genre: Shooter
  • Release Date: US: September 14, 2010

Super Mega Worm (iPhone)

Posted: September 16, 2010 in iPhone/iPad/iPod
Tags: ,

There are two types of WTF games. The first is a wonderfully weird game that ultimately reveals itself to be pointless and shallow because the developer expended all of its energy on getting the weird part right. (I could name a few here that would send the fanboys into lower orbit.) The second is a game likeSuper Mega Worm, which proudly flies its freak flag, but has the gameplay to back it up.

In the near future, the planet is poisoned by pollution caused by humans. The mega worms that lurk beneath the surface can no longer abide our carelessness, and so they rise to the surface to wipe us out. None of this is presented with an ounce of seriousness, from the opening crawl to the sound effects of humans as your worm gleefully gobbles them up. And with its delightful 16-bit graphics, Super Mega Worm successfully coaxes grins and giggles.

But like I said, there’s a great game here, too. Your worm is always moving – you can only steer it with a slider bar. Digging deep and then shooting for the surface arcs the worm through the air, hopefully mouth-first on a fleeing human. But if you repeatedly tap the “gas” button or bounce off a vehicle, you can send your worm high into the air to blast choppers and jets with its venomous spittle. Or you can unleash an EMP blast from the worm’s core that shuts down all machines in the immediate area. Going on a real bender, bounding from one human to the next (and chowing down on livestock, too) starts a bonus chain that greatly improves your score. (ign)

  • Published by: Deceased Pixel
  • Developed by: Deceased Pixel
  • Genre: Action
  • Release Date: US: August 26, 2010

4.6 million installs later, Rock Your Phone is no more — but over the next few days, it will join with rivalCydia to form what will surely be the largest alternative iOS app store. Not simply a merger of platforms, the deal will apparently see Cydia and Rock’s software teams merge as well — meaning not only should Rock users have all their software licenses transferred over, but that Rock-exclusive features (like backups) are now on the roadmap for Cydia, too. We’d recommend that jailbreakers the world over take to the streets to celebrate the joyous news, but sadly there’s still some work to be done. (engadget)

When you purchase electronics, especially in the price range of five hundred dollars and upwards, you want to protect your purchase. The obvious way to do such is to buy a case for your device, and when it comes to Apple products, there are no shortages of options. If you want to take protecting your iPad to a different level, you start thinking OtterBox. The iPad Defender Series Case essentially gives your device that Toughbook feel. It’s the same 1/4″ thick rubber/plastic combination that you would find on any OtterBox on any other device, plus it comes with a multi-purpose cover to help protect the screen. Out of all of the cases I’ve tried for my iPad, this one tips the scales for me. Not only because it’s so heavy, but for the peace of mind it ensures.
What’s goodProtection. Protection. Protection. If I drop my iPad while it’s in this case, I can pick it back up and keep on keepin’ on. The Defender provides more shock resistance than any other case available that I’ve ever seen. With two layers of protection and a cover for the screen, you’re safe against drops, no doubt about it. It also give the iPad a good feel in your hand, and helps you hold on to it. Out of box, the iPad can be a hard device to hold on to. It’s an awkward shape compared to every other device we’re used to, and it’s extremely thin. The rubberized outer shell provides something to grip and the top side of the case offers a little bit of a bevel around the screen to hold on to.

With a hard plastic cover over the screen and a screen protector, there’s no need to ever worry about scratching the screen again. I can just (literally) drop it into my back and go. Before I had the OtterBox, I would gently place the iPad between two of my school books and gently place my backpack on the floor when sitting it down. Now, I can toss it in the bag, toss the bag, etc. No more worrying about breaking my iPad. The case also doesn’t interfere with the usability of the iPad. All of the buttons, ports, switches, etc. are easily accessible through either some rubber plug or in the case of the port on the bottom of the device, through a removable plastic port cover.

The plastic cover that covers the screen is a multi-purpose cover. Not only does it protect the screen from table corners and other potentially hazardous objects when falling, it also serves as a stand for the iPad. With a built-in stand, it puts this case over the top for me. This, I use more than anything. I prop my iPad up on my desk, pull up a PDF of my class textbook, and get out a pen and some paper. Before I would have to look at the iPad laying flat on the desk, which wasn’t terrible, but being propped up and facing me at an angle makes it ten times easier to use in class or while at a table.

What’s badThe Defender series for the iPad isn’t perfect, no case is. But this case comes the closest to perfection for me. For me, the iPad is already heavy enough. Compared to it’s eReader counterparts, the iPad weighs nearly a pound more, which may not seem like a lot, but when you’re holding the device for extended periods of time it can become a little tiresome. Well, when you add the Defender case to the iPad you’re adding another twenty ounces to the mix. That nearly doubles the weight of the iPad, and puts it at almost five times the weight of the competition (judging by the newest Kindle at 8.5oz). There are always sacrifices with using accessories, and in this case the sacrifices are added weight to an already hefty device, and bulk, which is less of an issue.

One of my favorite things about the iPad is the slim design we’ve all come to know very well. The curved back on the iPad makes it feel even slimmer, but it starts out at half an inch thick. When you put the Defender on it bumps it up to one inch thick. You give up the sleek design of the iPad for a Toughbook® look.

Since I’ve put the case on and taken it off at least ten times now, it’s not so hard putting it on. It’s just like any other OtterBox that you’ve had to put on a phone, but much bigger. The hard plastic shell comes in two pieces, the silicon cover wraps around the inside and plugs into the plastic shell every two inches or so. Once you’ve mastered the art of putting on the OtterBox, you can put it on any device without a problem.

The negative side to the stand that comes built-in is the lack of being adjustable. I know, what can you expect from a two-piece mechanism? But typing on the iPad laying flat is a nuisance, and so is typing at a forty-five degree angle. Talk about accelerating carpal-tunnel…

The case comes with a screen protector, but it is a “self-adhering” (in other words a static-cling screen protector), which will help protect the screen, but isn’t something I enjoy putting on or have ever enjoyed after putting it on. Static-cling screen protectors always seem to attract every dust particle in the room to one centralized location that just so happens to be on the screen of whatever it is you’re installing the shield on. I personally use Invisible Shields on every device I own. I’m sad to say it but the OtterBox doesn’t play nicely with the Invisible Shield, and that’s because the Invisible Shield has a tacky texture to it. Sliding it in the plastic cover took me a good three minutes. Wiggling and maneuvering it to keep it from tearing up the shield. That’s my guess as to why the makers of this case chose the static-cling cling shield, but I despise them in every way. I’m OCD and cannot stand dust being under a shield.

ConclusionI know there may seem to be much more bad than there is good, but I’ve never liked cases (for any device) to begin with. I’m carrying two phones right now and they’re both completely naked. Cases, in my opinion, while undoubtedly protecting my device take away from the design someone worked very hard on. I like carrying my devices naked, but the iPad is the exception. In any case (no pun intended), I base my opinion on a case around what has the negatives and sacrifices. I can elaborate all day about what is good about a certain accessory, but what really matters is what’s bad about it, what makes me not like the case and would keep me from buying it. Most of these negatives are me nit-picking, but they’re still gripes of mine which I wish had been addressed, and I’m sure many of you would have the same issues.

I rate the iPad Defender Series Case 9/10. I love this case, much more than anything else I’ve tried for the iPad. It offers excellent protection, ample functionality with the stand, and superior peace of mind against bumps and drops. While adding a little bulk to your already decent-sized device, it does give you some sort of secret agent feel to carrying around your iPad. Anything that makes me feel like Agent 008 earns a thumbs up in my book. (phonedog)

For The Apple Geek Of The Day!

Posted: September 11, 2010 in iPhone/iPad/iPod
Tags: ,

I’m sure this concept is going to bring smiles to many iGeeks (me included) and keep us lusting for it to become a reality! The Docking and Storage Base is a convenient tray that fits under the screen of the iMac or PC and docks everything ‘i’; iPod, iPhone, iPad. It covers the area below and to the back of the screen allowing you to sync, charge, store and display up to 3 devices. Two of the docks are towards the end of the ramp so that they don’t obstruct the main screen, allowing them to be used as secondary screens (clever!).

The tray also provides easy access to USB ports that are located in the front, plus all the wiring is concealed to give it a clean look. The only wires you’ll see are the ones for a firewire and a power source. Two storage cabinets for other smaller electronic devices, documents and pens, complete this panel’s features. (yankodesign)

Totally Awesome! Designer: Yaser Alhamyari

iPod nano Review

Posted: September 11, 2010 in iPhone/iPad/iPod

When you take your first look at the new iPod nano, you’re bound to say to yourself: “This looks like an iPod shuffle with a screen;” well, because it more or less is. Sure, it has a few unique features and is a bit larger than the new shuffle, but the designs are undeniably similar. Both have a square design with rounded edges, brushed metal aluminum casing, the same clipping mechanism, and even similar buttons on top. The nano measures in at roughly 1.48 inches tall, 1.61 inches wide and only 0.35 inches thick. With that little real estate to work with, it’s a wonder that Apple was able to squeeze a 1.54-inch TFT multitouch display into the iPod nano at all.

As small as it looks, the inch and a half display is actually more than enough to work with, and swiping through menus and selecting items is fairly simple. The interface is unique to the iPod nano but based partly on the menus used on the iPod touch and iPhone. The main interface is organized into pages of four icons, each acting as shortcut to music menus, such as artists and genius mixes, as well as other functions like photos, FM radio, and settings. The screen is surprisingly responsive, though getting used of the new control style does take some time to get used to. In the absence of a dedicated home button, the iPod nano requires users to tap and hold the center of the screen to return to the main screen, or swipe from left to right to return to the previous page.

Perhaps the coolest use of gesture control in the iPod nano, however, is the pinch to rotate function. The device lacks a dedicated accelerometer, which is the chip found in the iPod touch and the iPhone that detects the tilt of the screen and rotates it accordingly. Subsequently, Apple has made it so users can ‘pinch’ the image on screen with two fingers and rotate it themselves. Since the nano doesn’t play videos or browse the web, there really isn’t much need to rotate the screen, but for sheer wow-factor, the pinch to rotate feature is pretty cool.

Performance wise, the battery life, audio quality, and FM receiver function remain pretty true to last year’s model. The battery is still capable of delivering roughly 24 hours of playback, though the total battery life gets lower the more you play with the screen and what brightness you set it to. Audio is still top notch, and the FM receiver is a handy add-on, allowing users to tag songs they hear on the radio so that they can purchase them the next time they connect to iTunes.

But our experience wasn’t entirely spent marveling at gesture controls and the new compact design; we actually had a few issues with the iPod nano, namely that it does away with some of the most biggest selling points of last year’s model – video recording and video playback. By shrinking the device down and swapping to small multitouch display, they’ve eliminated a user’s ability to store and play video content, but also taken out the built-in camera. While they may not have been the most popular features of the previous model, they certainly contributed to the utility and value of the device, and as a result, we would have expected to see the iPod nano offered at a lower price. Unfortunately, Apple left the pricing structure intact, charging $149 for the 8GB model, and $179 for the 16GB version, and for the feature set, we found ourselves having a hard time justifying the cost to consumers.

Still, there are a few key demographics that may want to check out the new nano, specifically athletes and music lovers on-the-go. Up until now, the iPod shuffle has been the go-to device for active users, but the lack of a screen to navigate menus and songs can be a turn off to some. With smaller dimensions and an integrated clip, the new nano may be a nice alternative. The added storage capacity over the shuffle may also be alluring to some, providing space for several thousand more songs.

Overall, the iPod nano is a tough sell in our book. The old design provided more versatility and acted as a nice intermediate step between the shuffle and the iPod touch. This design, however, doesn’t bridge the gap quite as well. It may be useful for some, but for the cash, we’d rather have last year’s model. (ign)

It seems more than a little odd to us that Apple hasn’t bothered to make FaceTime compatible with its own longstanding desktop video chat service, iChat, but we’ve at least supposed that it’s an inevitability with whatever upcoming Mac OS X update or software bundle that Apple deems appropriate. Now Mac4Ever, who was spot on with a pile of rumors last year, but hasn’t succeeded with its recent prediction of an iLife ’11 launch in August, is saying that Apple is prepping FaceTime both for Mac and PC. We don’t know if that means building a whole copy of iChat for Windows, or just making FaceTime compatible with some existing PC video chat service, but it would certainly improve the odds of us ever finding a legitimate use for FaceTime. (engadget)