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Saturday, 09 March 2013 17:21

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Alien Creeps TD Review - iOS

by: Alan Wasserman - 09/09/14

Alien Creeps TD is a free to download tower defense game that takes place in a time where you become the last defense against the alien invasion. Your mission is to keep the aliens from finally taking over the rest of the world. At your disposal are numerous towers including machine guns and laser turrets.  You are also given a hero at the start of the game a Rambo type named Flak who comes wielding a huge machine gun/grenade launcher. Some of the more unique units at your disposal are the ability to call in reinforcements where a drop ship drops off infantry men to a location of your choice and the ability to call in an airstrike which if timed right can wipe out a cluster of enemy units. The most devastating unit though is the Tesla Tower.  Usable a finite number of times per mission you can target a group of enemies and wipe them out almost instantaneously. You can continue to use it once all your charges are used up but you’ll need gems and gem’s like most mobile games these days requires real money.  You can gain gems in other ways throughout game play but they come in small batches are not easy to achieve.

The game is wonderfully animated; the boards are full of detail including burning oil barrels, flags blowing in the breeze and signal lights flashing.  The enemy units are all very unique and are easy to identify once you play the game for a few minutes. Starting with lowly grunts and moving to more terrifying units like Orb Weavers, Hornets and Juggernauts each unit is more and more difficult to kill and does more and more damage to your troops and Hero. All the characters, both villains and heroes alike, are drawn in a caricature style over emphasizing things like large bodies or heads with small arms, legs or other appendages. It makes for a comical take on the impending alien invasion.

As you complete each stage you can unlock upgrades to your units, buy new units and if you wish you may pay extra money unlock new heroes including Roxie the obligatory fiery red head commando in a tight red tank top that wields unnaturally large pistols. For a little more money you can unlock Skybolt who is a Predator styled alien that flies above the board killing from a distance with his rail gun.  Heroes can be trained and leveled up as they continue to kill bad guys, so they can become a great asset that can either play clean up and take out units the squeak by your towers; or to put up front to thin the heard before they get to the towers. For me both strategies worked pretty well.

Game play is pretty straight forward for a game like this; kill all the aliens before you run out of life or run out of time so there is not much innovative here. The speed of the game however is a little surprising. I was able to complete the first few boards pretty easily and pretty quickly, (within an hour or so) but that is where the game stalled. Once I made it to the 4th board the game quickly got unbalanced. Even after I used all the coins I saved from finishing the previous board and upgrading the towers as much as I could the sheer amount of enemies that come in over the course 10 waves overwhelmed my meager forces pretty quick. Even using most of the gems you are given at the start of the game to fire the Tesla cannon 3-4 times past the allotted amount I was barely able to squeak by the board.

Additionally you can link your game to your Facebook account and your friends who play the game can send you reinforcements and airstrikes which is pretty nice. You can also unlock achievements by killing a required number of aliens, leveling up your hero to certain level thresholds, etc. These achievements give you a nominal coin reward to help buy upgrades and things.

If you like games like Toy Soldiers, Tiny Defense and even in some ways games like Clash of Clans you’ll love this game. The tongue in cheek humor keeps it light as does the animation. The pay for play aspect you can’t get away from these days, though some games do it better than others. Alien Creeps sets the prices pretty fair for a bundle of coins or bag of gems. The Heroes are affordable if you are committed to the game at $2.99 for Roxie and $8.99 for Skybolt.  The game rates for me at 8 out of 10. Enjoyable and fun, each level is replay able three times for maximum challenge and cash rewards. It will reward experienced tower defense players with challenging game play but it allows enough runway for more novice players to learn it, enjoy it, and get hooked. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

by: Ben Goldfarb - 08/27/14

Having been both developed and produced by Sierra Entertainment, Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers made it’s debut on December 17th, 1993 and received relatively positive reviews. Sins of the Fathers won Best in Show at the International Consumer Electronics Show and named Game of the Year in several computer gaming magazines. Thanks to Pinkerton Road Studios, Gabriel is making his return, with some graphical enhancements, in the Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition.

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers was the first game in the Gabriel Knight point-and click adventure series. Our protagonist, Gabriel Knight, is a smooth talking pretty boy living in the mystical city of New Orleans. He works as a bookstore owner and an amateur writer. While working on a new voodoo mystery novel, Gabriel learns of a local murder with strange evidence and decides to investigate the case as “research”.

The game plays like any other point-and-click game adventure game. We can navigate Gabriel through many different scenes such as Lake Pontchartrain and the French Quarter and as we do so, we can click on a number of things allowing him to interact with the people and objects in his surroundings. Using the right combination of clues and interactions will allow Gabriel to progress in the story. Unlike other point-and-click adventures, possessing the appropriate item for a situation does not automatically progress the narrative. In Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers, the player is in control. It is up to the player to choose which item is used in each interaction. This gives a real sense of accomplishment when you pair the right queues together and a real sense of frustration when you don’t.

In the 20 year gap between the original release and the 20th anniversary, Gabriel, and the rest of the game, got a nice facelift and the action bar/inventory moved from the top of the screen to the bottom. Navigating Gabriel can be a bit slow at times and leads to some pacing issues and added frustration when you are stumped and end up aimlessly wandering the streets of New Orleans. Luckily, you can double click and skip forward in time allowing faster navigation, or teleportation, as I like to imagine. Your journal comes with a very nifty “hints” tab that unlocks new hints over time. It starts off with general guidance and ends by telling you exactly what to do in order to progress.

The 20th Anniversary Edition can be a bit difficult at first, but once familiarized with the intricacies of the game is really quite fun! It is a great addition to the point-and-click genre and a great introduction to the Gabriel Knight series. Let’s hope Gabriel Knight returns in a 21st Anniversary special...or at least a sequel.

Gabriel Knight: Sins of the Fathers 20th Anniversary Edition is slated for release in 2014 and will be available for iPad, PC, Mac, and Android platforms. A preview code was provided by Pinkerton Road for this story.

Simple Matching Game...Maybe Too Simple

by: Alan M. Wasserman - 07/24/14 - iOS

Elfcraft is a simple but fairly addictive matching game. In Elfcraft your objective is to place three or more matching component parts together. Three stones become a flint stone, match three flint stones to make dragon scales, match three dragon scales to make moon rocks and so on and so on.  There are 12 possible components to make.  Each turn you are given a two component piecess made up of the available component as you can currently make. At the beginning its two stones, but as you progress you may get a low-high piece in a stone and a Ice crystal and placing it can start to get very difficult if you are not somewhat planful of your moves.  Thankfully you can spin your pieces Tetris-style by tapping the screen and swiping your finger side to side to choose where to lower the stone in the 6x7 play area.  The early game is easy enough but as the pieces have more options with which to present you with your best laid plans can go out the window.  One interesting mechanic in the game is if you tilt the screen side to side all the pieces move together. This is advantageous if you have a matching component that is merely on the other side of play area, simply tilt and watch as the match resolves it’s self. I found that sometimes tilting can also create matches you can’t see.  The game also presents you with a “spell book” that has four spells to choose from. One spell removes one component of your choice to allow you to remove a mistaken placement or just get one out of the way that is blocking at match, other spells remove whole rows of components while others remove every component of one selected type.  For me the most useful and most rare spell is the swap stone spell. It allows you to swap two adjacent stones. Like Tetris, if your pieces get to the top of the board and you cannot place an entire piece the game ends.

I have a few issues with this game, while the game is fun and has a high replayability factor the board remains the same every time and the opening pieces are always the same so it can get very redundant until you start unlocking the 4th and 5th combinations.  The spellbook is limited use only, spells are unlocked when you reach predefined achievements (viewable from the main screen) but if you want more or are in a pinch you have to pay real money to get more.  The biggest issue I have with the game is the number of lives you have. Represented in this game as tree trunks or logs you only have 3 lives with which to play with and afterword’s you have to let them recharge before you can play again. A game without levels or missions should not employ this type of game mechanic. It cries out to me as a money grab by the developer.  As in many other mobile games you can pay for more lives starting at $1.99 for 10.

The game is fun and I think for a younger gamer it can provide a few minutes of entertainment, while a more experience gamer may be able to play longer eventually the game will end. The inability to play the game for as long as you want has me rating the game lower, as well as the pay-to-win mentality on the spellbook is pretty frustrating. Because of the novelty of the concept and the initial fun factor of the game I give it 5 out of 10

Xavier S H reviews Xbox 360 version of Cry Wolf - Episode 5 in The Wolf Among Us series. A review code was provided for this report.

 

 

Xavier S H previews PC version of the Kickstarter funded project Habitat. A preview code was provided for this report.

Gaming Nexus' Travis Huinker interviews SOE's Terry Michaels about the upcoming social creative MMO, Landmark!

Landmark is as derivative of the popular EverQuest series.

Gaming Nexus' Travis Huinker interviews SOE's Jimmy Whisenhunt about the upcoming PC based survival MMO, H1Z1!

FCB PInball Review - iOS

By: Alan M. Wasserman - 06/24/14

This review is mighty timely as the World Cup is entering the final rounds of Group play moving to the Round of 16. FCB Pinball tries to bring some of the fast play and ball bouncing we see with the La Liga team FC Barcelona to the pinball table. The table is well laid out, with your standard Pinball components. Two sets of flippers, 3 bumpers up top to rack up points as well two sets of targets at the top of the table. Spell KICK by passing your ball through the gates and get multipliers, to the upper right hit three very hidden targets and get Football Frenzy, which as near as I can tell just spins a platform with a Soccer (football) ball on top of it. The target in the middle of the table is a goal complete with a moving goalie who tries to keep your ball out of the goal. Scoring a Hat Trick (that‘s three balls in the net) with the third goal into the right hand side of the net will get you a multiball. Score a Hat Trick into the left hand side and you get a challenge mode where you are aiming at specific parts of the table. If you can roll over PASS at the bottom of the table then you get a free kick for 30 seconds (extra ball), the free kick is also active for about 15 seconds after initial launch to keep you playing when whiff with the flipper. The table has two ramps at which to aim as well as a “Danger Zone” target to hit. If you can enter the “Danger Zone” (cue up Kenny Loggins) you net a cool 3 million points. However, you only have 15 seconds after launching the ball to enter the “Danger Zone” making it both a skill and luck shot.

The game plays pretty much like every touch device pinball game I have played.  You pull your finger back to launch the ball, tap the sides of the screen to activate the flippers and you can tilt the device to nudge the table. The flippers have good response time and the ball launch is sensitive enough to be able to put as much, or little, touch on the ball as you want.  The animations and sounds are good and the game runs smooth without ever lagging or crashing.  There are multiple angles at which to play, I however prefer the angle 2 which lets you see the whole table without the camera darting around to follow the ball.

The big issue I have with this game is that is not as exciting or advanced as some of the other Pinball games out there. Zen Studios sets a very high bar to reach with its themed tables and complex game play. I venture there are not more complex tables in the real world than what Zen puts into its games. The fact that Zen Pinball is free and gives you a couple of great tables with tons of replay value, makes me wonder why one would pay $2.99 for the smaller and less complex table you get here with FCB Pinball. FCB also does not track local high scores and relies on GameCenter to track a single high score comparing you against all the people in the world playing the game.

Playing for a few hours on this table made me ready to move onto another table with other challenges. It’s a great time waster and if you are waiting at a doctor’s office for an appointment or to talk to a lawyer I would recommend this game. If you are forced to put the game down while playing you won’t feel like you are walking away from a huge time investment.  The fluid game play is what makes this game, but stacked up with its competition it falls reasonably short. I give it a 4 out of 10.

 

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Wednesday, 17 April 2013 14:27

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