Back in the heyday of gaming (and by that I really mean my heyday) there were two seemingly universal rules to gaming. One was that if you couldn’t beat anyone else in a game, you could still beat your dad. The second was that licensed games always suck; but like Moore’s law, there has been increasing evidence that both of these rules no longer hold water. Gamers are getting older and for the past decade or so there have been an increasingly large number of quality games based off of beloved franchises. Batman games in particular have been a bright spot for gaming and it hasn’t hurt that this Renaissance has coincided with a string of Batman movies directed by Christopher Nolan. The Dark Knight Rises for Android, however, is a good first attempt but doesn’t quite live up to the level of its inspiration.
Built ostensibly as an open-world adventure, The Dark Knight Rises is frustratingly linear. There simply isn’t enough for the Caped Crusader to do besides progress the main story by dutifully obeying the commands of Commissioner Gordon and Lucius Fox in pursuit of Bane, the dastardly villain of both the game and movie. This issue is further magnified by a battle system that sacrifices depth for accessibility and a story line that does little to make the player want to keep playing. That isn’t to say that there aren’t positives to The Dark Knight, there is a solid base to an entertaining game here, it just needed to ramp everything up one more level.
You don’t need me to tell you What Grand Theft Auto is like. Vice City has been out for nearly a decade, so there’s a wealth of information out there about gameplay, missions, story, secrets, and anything else you might want to know about what the game is. Since Rockstar has ported the game to Android for the series’s ten year anniversary, I’ll give you a rundown purely about how this works on the new platform. While the entire experience seems to have remained whole in the transfer, I’m not sure any fan or newcomer would be best served by playing this version of GTA.
Move over Zombies. Vampires are back.
Fangz is not your ordinary side-scrolling beat ‘em up shooter. It has depth with its story of how a regular Joe named Frank is set to solve the world economic crisis and save his family at the same time. The opening scene of the game presents Frank’s family having fun with their picnic when all of a sudden blood-sucking vampires show up to crash their get-together. The family was then taken away. Now, your goal is to rescue Frank’s family from their bloody hands. This Android game also features superb graphics with its amazing 2D art and exceptionally gruesome details with heads exploding and blood spattering.
A lot of companies will spit out a game just to advertise a movie or throw out some cheesy title just for promotional purposes. However, this little mobile game featuring Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson , which came out this week, not only doesn’t really coincide with any one event (other than maybe the release of his new G.I. Joe movie I guess) but actually isn’t some game that feels slapped together by some coder looking to cut his teeth. As a shock to myself, this title actually was a lot of fun. I found myself returning to it quite a couple times just to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating either. After all, licensed titles don’t always have the best track record.
The “plot” of this game has The Rock exiting his trailer while on the set of filming yet another action movie, only to discover something has gone awry with the denizens of the set. They have become “infected” with some sort of rage virus, similar to that of 30 Days Later, which causes them to become violent, rage monkeys. The Rock, who makes a living being one of those violent, rage monsters, is our hero of this story, somehow avoiding the effects of this pathogen, and crushing these “jabronis” on his way to save the day. Throughout the game you can upgrade The Rock’s arsenal and outfit, all which aide him on his quest to know his role and know what the blue hell is going on.
Yes, Yes, I know, Skyrim joke is played out.
Regardless, when a game comes highly acclaimed, the producer has a history of good games and features one of the artists involved in this title hails from The Elder Scrolls series, I’d have expected something with a little more oompf behind it. When purchasing this game, the whole premises seemed fascinating to me. After all, I love me an epic fantasy “kill a bunch of mythical creatures” sort of game just like the next person. I’ve logged countless hours into World of Warcraft, Skyrim, Dragon Quest, Breath of Fire and who knows how many other action adventure RPGs. It’s a genre I quite enjoy to say the least.
But Aralon felt very lackluster in comparison to those games. It didn’t have anything truly magical or unique to itself. It played and appeared extremely generic, like quite literally it was an action adventure RPG where you go kill things. It felt soulless, like this could have been any other game. Just a shell, really.
After much finagling and whining I’ve finally managed to get my mitts on an early copy of Bladeslinger. Outside of some missing item descriptions — and no ability to take screencaps, unfortunately — I’ve been told what I have is pretty much a finished product. After spending four-plus hours in a car with my nose buried in the game, I’ve come to one final, resounding conclusion:
It rules. Hard.
Seriously. And that’s before a trip to Indianapolis, then after a trip to Indianapolis, the only two things guaranteed to put me in a terrible mood anyway. It’s like the ultimate acid test: If I’m going to Indy and I still like it, it’s probably pretty good. If I’m coming back and I still enjoy it, you know it is.
Once in a while a game comes along that goes beyond being “just” bad. When a game’s flaws are deeper than just a lack of execution, and a complete lack of pride, professionalism and artistic vision combine to make a truly horrendous game, it actually gives you the feeling of being swindled out of your hard earned cash. “Duncan and Katy” is such a game. That it manages to make you feel so ripped off, despite the game’s 99cent price point, is in some twisted way its greatest achievement. The game’s best feature, and I’m not being factitious for effect here, is that it is incredibly short. So short in fact that I would have felt even more ripped off when it ended if it were not for the joyful release I felt knowing that finishing the game meant I could do something else, anything else, other than play that god forsaken game for a second longer. There are no redeeming features that can be pointed to, even its best feature, the game’s graphics, are mediocre at best and are constricted to extremely small levels. Its boss battles, the only moment of variety, wouldn’t have been out of place as a mini boss in a mediocre Nintendo 64 platformer. There is simply no reason to purchase this game.
Though the supply of endless runners in the Google Play store seems only slightly less infinite than the action the genre promises, I often find myself excited over the discovery of a new game in this category nonetheless. I’m not really into bragging about high scores or honing my skills for near-perfect timing, but I have been intrigued enough by the high speed fun of some of these games to spend hours and hours using all manner of vehicle to traverse a variety of randomly generated terrain. Temple Run 2, the follow-up to one of the most popular on-rails platformers, is filled with fire, zip-lines, minecarts, crumbling architecture and a very angry monkey creature, but it doesn’t do anything that hooks me in, despite the quality of the iteration.
I should explain that, unlike many mobile gamers, I don’t have any fond feelings for the original Temple Run; when it became popular, I had a few other runners in my repertoire already and the visual style didn’t help it stand out at all. While the graphics are much more impressive this time around, the aesthetic is very reminiscent of the prior trip to the temple, sort of an off-brand Indiana Jones vibe. This game looks a lot cleaner and more realistic, but just as forgettable as the first.
In the name of disclosure, I’ll go ahead and admit zombie games have to try a little harder to impress me, no matter what the genre. This wasn’t always the case. I’m not trying to go all hipster with the zombie thing and say I was into it way before it blew up… but I was totally way into it before it blew up. My mom was cool enough to rent me a VHS copy of Dawn of the Dead after months of begging when I was a kid (read: close to when it was actually released – I’m that old), and it was over from there.
The point of this isn’t to turn GameWoof into a LiveJournal. It’s to illustrate that, while I’m happy with the explosion of the genre, the ratio of good zombie games to poor ones has not been so hot since things blew up. Think The War Z or any number of the games advertised on Facebook if you need proof.
Dead Crossing is, fortunately, not bad on a War Z kind of level. That said, it’s still really bad. The lack of polish is evident from the moment you start the game. That alone sucks a lot of fun out of a premise that, given a little more love, could have been perfect for the Android platform: a motion-controlled runner where you smash zombies with your car – and shoot the ones that escape your bumper’s wrath.
In fact, many problems that plague low-to-mid-tier mobile games hit Dead Crossing twice as hard. The UI is garbage. Straight up, no exaggeration garbage. I tried the game on a Galaxy SIII and an Acer Iconia tablet, neither of which have small screens, and still struggled to navigate the menu because of the small buttons and the even smaller hitboxes governing my touch’s accuracy. I hated going to the store for fear I’d accidentally buy a gun, get stuck in an endless menu loop, or start a game before all my guns were equipped, leaving me weakened or defenseless until my quick and inevitable death.
You know what, though? Forget the UI’s friendliness. I don’t care that it couldn’t be worse unless my phone actually electrocuted me when I pressed buttons. Why? Because it’s super sketchy as well, and that’s close to an instant kibosh for me when it comes to mobile games.