Posts Tagged ‘iphone’

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

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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)

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

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)

We still maintain  that you’ve got better options  than TomTom when it comes to iPhone GPS software, but if you pulled the trigger before giving yourself a moment to consider what you were actually doing, this here news may just interest you. In an effort to maintain compatibility with Apple’s latest and greatest iPhone, TomTom is now including a simple adapter for all  Car Kit orders going out on September 1st or later. If you ordered one prior to that, you can apply down in the source link for a freebie to be sent your way. Or just hack something up in the garage that looks like the insert above. (engadget)

As much as I enjoyed Mirror’s Edge on my Xbox 360, after feeling the breeze at my back with the iPad and now iPhone editions, I’m certain this game was made to be played in 2D. By stripping away any of the fussiness of lining up perfect jumps along three axes, Mirror’s Edge loses almost all of its original frustrations and becomes the best unintended rhythm games for the iPhone. Really, this game is about getting into a groove.

Mirror’s Edge is the story of Faith, a courier in a gleaming dystopia. Information is a precious resource, rarely flowing freely due to the iron grip of a totalitarian regime. You must slip through the police state’s defenses by blasting across rooftops and burrowing through underground passages. Fortunately, you have both the grace and grit of a lion, able to perform incredible acrobatics. With the swipe of your finger, you’re off and running. Timing upward and downward swipes helps Faith leap over or duck under obstacles. You can defy gravity with wall runs, slide down zip lines, and hop across exposed scaffolding with simple swipe sequences that feel natural. All you need to do is leave one finger anchored in a corner of the screen and make your small but distinct swipes, never obscuring a bit of the gorgeous thrills. This is simply one of the most intuitive action games I have played on any of the iOS devices.

Gravity is not Faith’s only enemy, though. She must take down armed thugs and guards, too. Swipes are your instruments of destruction. These are a bit trickier than the urban gymnastics, primarily because timing is so critical when coming up on a guard just as he is raising his weapon. Do you flick up and then to the side to perform a flying kick? Or maybe a roll that sends him crashing to the ground? How Faith comes out of these attacks often affects survival because you can plant your foot in the face of a guard and then be unprepared to deal with a low-hanging duct. Mirror’s Edge is thrown into slow-motion when you engage a guard, too, which can throw off timing until you get a firm grip on exactly when slo-mo starts and stops.

Some of Mirror’s Edge boils down to a little trial-and-error. If the stages were any longer or the checkpoints not as smartly placed, failure to negotiate some of the trickier elements like timed wall jumps up vertical shafts would be frustrating. But chances are good that you will only need to replay sequences once or twice to get your timing down.

Mirror’s Edge includes a new Speed Run mode which challenges you to race through stages and then post your best times on Facebook. It’s a nice addition to the main game, and definitely preferable to the collection mode from the iPad edition, which was all about picking up hidden messenger bags.

EA has done a marvelous job bringing Mirror’s Edge to the iPhone. If you have an iPhone 4 and new Touch, the Retina display mode is brilliantly crisp and pops off the screen. But no matter which device you use, the acrobatic animations are silken. You just look cool when you perfectly link up a series of jumps and rolls, flying across the gaps in rooftops as pigeons take flight out of sudden fright. The bright, primary- and secondary-only color scheme is taken from the console game, which remains a stunner to me. The use of bright reds to denote critical objects or paths is not only pleasing to the eye, but also makes Mirror’s Edge more fun to play. It’s nice to see aesthetic dovetail so well into gameplay. (ign)