game reviews

This category contains 17 posts

Clash of Clans Review

Clash of Clans
Currently my favorite game right now is Clash of Clans. I have been playing this game since Thanksgiving and that new game feeling has yet to wear off. This game is very similar to computer games like Civilization, where you have to create your own village, or clan if you will. The major difference is that it is much simpler than Civilization. In Clash of Clans everything is about war. You start off with one builder and one town hall. You use the builder to create building to improve your town and make it stronger. Early on you need to learn how to collect resources. There are four types of resources in the game, and each can only be used for specific things. The first, and most universal resource is called a gem. Gems are the way the creators of the game make money. Because Clash of Clans is a free app from the app store, anyone with an apple product can download it. Every free game has something you can buy with real money to give you the upper hand in the game. In Clash of Clans, those are gems. They can be used in a number of ways. The way I like to use them it to speed up buildings that are being built or upgraded. I will explain this in greater detail later. Another use for gems is to exchange them for other resources. There are only two ways to get gems, the first I already mentioned, by paying for them, the other is to harvest them by removing rocks, bushes and trees. The second type of resource is gold. This is a very important resource because gold is used to create and upgrade your town hall and defensive structures. Defensive structures are things like walls, cannons, archer towers, and mortars. These structures protect your town from raiders. Gold is easier to get than gems. One of the first buildings you will create are gold mines. Over time these mines with harvest the gold from the ground for you, all you have to do is tap on the mine and your villagers will transport the gold from the mines to your collector for you. That way can be time consuming and tedious. There is one other way to get gold, besides trading gems for it, and that is by raiding. I will explain that later as well. The third resource you need is called elixir. Elixir is used to build and upgrade your offensive structures. These structures include your army, spells, army camps, and barracks. Just like with gold, elixir can either be harvested from the ground through mines, or by raiding other people’s villages. The last, and harder to get resources is dark elixir. This resource can only be harvested with a special mine, but it can also be stolen in raids. Dark elixir is used on special troops, that is how you create them and upgrade them. The next thing you nee to know about the game is that everything is time based. everything you build takes one builder, a predetermined cost (in any of the three resources), and a predetermined amount of time. For example, in order to upgrade your town hall from level 8 to level 9 you need to pay one builder 3 million in gold and it will take him ten days to finish the job. Everything from building structures, to building troops, to harvesting resources takes a certain amount of time. And the time changes as you level up. Raiding is one of the most important aspects of the game. The idea is to build up a strong army, using the elixir you already have. An army consists of several different creatures, each with their own unique advantages and disadvantages. each one costs a different amount of elixir to create and time to complete. Once you have an army created you can raid. There are two different places you can raid each with different rules. The first, and probably the easiest is in the single player. In single player you can attack the computer, and by attacking you can steal all the resources they have. In multiplayer you can attack other villages and steal resources from them. Now obviously if you can raid other people’s bases and steal their resources, the same can be done to you. If that does happen to you, you get the option of of revenging whoever attacked you. There is one last thing you need to know about raiding and that is what cups, or trophies are. Cups are how you are judged compared to other players in the game. Every time you win a battle, either someone invades you and you win or you destroy someone else’s base, you win trophies. Every time you lose, either at your base or someone else’s, you lose trophies. Typically the game tries to get people with similar trophy level to attack one another. You win a battle, it you are attacking, by doing one of two things. The first it to destroy your opponents town hall, if you do that, you win no matter what. The second is to destroy fifty percent of the structures on your opponents base. The basic concept of this game is to have the best base. One of my favorite features in the game is the ability to join a clan. Once you rebuild the clan castle it gives you the option to join into a clan of your choice, or create your own clan. the purpose of the clan is so people can donate troops to one another to be used for invading and protecting your base. This game is extremely fun. one of my favorite things about it is the fact that you don’t have to sit there and play it for hours. You can play for short amounts of time and come back to it later, because everything is based off of time. Everyone can play it, as long as you have apple device.

Candy Crush Review

William Casey
ENG 380 New Media
Professor Alex Reid
June 5, 2013
The Low Down on Candy Crush Saga
I may be behind the times a little but I have just recently delved into the world of The Candy Crush Saga. This is a game that is made for the everyday person that may have a few minutes here or there to distract themselves with a fun smartphone game. It is not very complex and does not have too many rules and regulations. It is something of a new and aesthetically different version of the hit game Bejeweled. The concept of the game is to get rid of the candy pieces on the screen. The screen is reminiscent of an old Tetris board. The difference is that the pieces are not continually falling until the board fills up and ends your round of play. In most boards there is no time limit on your moves and will allow you to play until you have used up the allotted amount of moves you have for that board.
The main purpose is that you must move similar candy pieces together in groups of three or more to make them disappear. If you move more than three pieces together than they don’t just disappear but they give you a new piece of candy that has a super power type of function. For example if you move a red jelly bean over and complete a pattern of four of them then your new piece that is created is still a red jellybean but it is now covered in white stripes. This means that when you combine it into another series of the same color that it will take out an entire column or row. There are other super power combinations that you get when you combine the candies in certain ways. The objectives do change though the parameters surrounding the movements of the pieces remain the same. One board’s objectives may not be the same as the previous.
You are awarded points for the moves that you make based on the candies you have destroyed and the special candies you have unlocked and used. There is always a target score you get for each round and you must reach that score every time. You must also meet the requirements that are stated to you just prior to beginning each board. One of the requirements is that you need to explode all of the ‘jellies’ that are surrounding the candy. Another scenario includes bringing fruit all the way down and out of the screen. There is one setting that gives you a time limit to meet the point goal. The reward for finishing a board is, like I have already stated, the opportunity to do play a new board. This new world you unlock is presented on a board game background that is reminiscent of the ‘Old Candy Land’ board-game. You slowly move around a board-game on a candy cane railway system and there does not seem to be an end anytime soon. There is an almost limitless amount of stops on the candy railway.
Right after I first downloaded candy Crush I investigated what I was playing. The first thing I noticed when I began was the “How to Play” portion of the home page. It is not very specific on what you are supposed to do. It tells you how to combine candies and nothing else. So you go into the game blind as to what everything means on the screen. All you know is that you must bring these candies together and you will learn the rest as you progress. For someone like me it took some time before I could understand what I was doing. It took about four levels for me to figure out how I was progressing from board to board and what was sometimes preventing me from completion. After I figured this out I thought that I was all set, but then I ran out of lives. If you look up at the top left corner of the homepage you will see a number inside of a pink heart with a clock next to it. You are allotted five lives and as you use them up you are given thirty minutes before the one life is rejuvenated. When the number in the heart reads zero you cannot play again until the clock also hits zero. At that point one life has been added back into your account. You max out at five lives unless you purchase more. This is where the game turns for the worst.
This app was free and one must understand that. You’re playing with the company’s objective that you spend real life money on purchasing more lives and other advantages to help you along the path of winning. Nothing in life is free. What I found when I went to the in-game store was outrageous. The lowest amount of money you can spend on new lives was sixteen dollars and ninety nine cents. This was for three additional life spots. The other two purchases you can make are for cheat type functions to boost your ability to triumph. One went for thirty nine dollars and ninety nine cents and the other was twenty four dollars and ninety nine cents. This type of monetary compensation for a smart phone app seems crazy to me. I guess that there are people out there who might think this money is well spent; I am not one of them.
I would recommend this game to anyone who enjoys distractions from there phone even though I do not agree with the money making avenues the makers have taken. It is an overall fun game that is truly as addictive as anything out there. When I run out of lives I find myself waiting for the time to be up so that I can play again. I think this is the sign of a game that is worth playing. While I was writing this review I played Candy Crush three times.


Howard Clears to Dempsey… Dempsey carries… Dempsey… Dempsey to Altidore… Altidore to Dempsey… to Altidore… GOOOOOOOOOOOOL!

FIFA 13 for the XBOX 360 encapsulates all the things fans worldwide love about football or as the world’s game is known state side; soccer. FIFA 2013 makes the largest jump in features for the franchise since the game was created. To really take a look at the differences I took it upon myself to go into the stack of games and play the previous two FIFAs to really the notice the new upgrades in FIFA 13. I found some of the changes to be in A.I. (artificial intelligence), player mobility, and the user’s control of the important aspects such control of the ball and player’s physicality.
The A.I. plays a huge role in FIFA with the ability to position the players in a better situation to capitalize on momentum and opportunity. The freedom with the sticks (controller’s joysticks) to move the ball is something this author is heralding as a victory in itself. In a game focused on the movement of a single ball, having the ability as the player to move the ball more freely and to attempt more moves with the ball is worth buying a new game entirely. The A.I. is more lifelike with the computer responding more naturally to good and bad passes from the user forcing the user to play better. The added benefit of being able to be physical in off the ball situations such as in corner or free kicks is something that should be noted. This free physicality allows for better positioning and blocks of otherwise well placed balls. This also helps improve defensive play with more chances to steal back a possession or two.
Speaking of corner kicks, the upgrades there impress. The user gains the ability to position different players in different set ups to allow for fake runs, multiple selections for passes, and the ability to be as creative as real players playing on the front yard. The upgraded graphics and frame rate really show through here with crisp movement and responses to the changing environment. Though the changes are slight compared to the previous version it does have its noticeable advantages like new reaction animations which appears when players react to situations and challenges more fluidly as they would in real time real life. Examples of these would be recovering or reacting to a push, sliding, falling, or even colliding into another player. This year’s FIFA really works to make the game less restraining and robotic in body motion from last years.
As the opening line suggest the ability to play for your favorite club or country in career mode is a lot more fun with expanded options that allow for friendlies, qualifiers, and international tournaments; just like in real life! From Argentina to Venezuela with all the teams in between select your favorite and take them to league, tournament, or international victory.
Other added features include the skills challenge, allowing players to hone fundamentals in the game like dribbling, passing, crossing, and shooting. The games are fun and help the user to become more adept at playing all while having fun. Scores and times are saved to allow others to try to beat personal bests and posted records. There is thirty some odd games and they all are different allowing the player to work on something specific or a combination of skill allowing the player to further develop they’re in game abilities. Players can earn rewards, grow levels, and play games linked to actual soccer events happening in real time. The game boasts over 500 clubs and 15,000 players making game play and opportunity boundless and if you still can’t find the right player you can always create and develop one.
The point of every sports game should make the player tremble in the core of their heart like they’re actually at the game, in the heat of the moment, holding their collective breathe. The beauty of sports games is that the player can help all of the little David like teams knock off or defeat the monster like Goliath. One of the key innovations of FIFA 13 is the balance in game play between challenge and success. A balance hard to come by and used brilliantly in the game. This tension is most noticeable in first-touch controls. Gone is the A.I. assisting with incredible skill taking the balls out of the air or perfectly running onto passes at speed without missing a step. In this updated FIFA if you don’t have the skill you’re not going to pull it off and will probably lose ball possession.
First touch isn’t the only noticeable change in gameplay. While previous FIFAs focused on defense and improving reaction this FIFA shows off more freedom to create offensively. EA attacked the offensive issue improving the A.I. by having the computer react to openings and move for a pass or shot off the ball. With improved A.I. the reactions to collisions, pushes, or slides is a lot better and not the weird looking stuff it was before. The better reactions forces players to really account for player to player match ups in physical advantages and disadvantages.
In closing FIFA 13 offers the player a range of options from quick start games to full blown career mode with anyone from the local club to the biggest of International teams. If those still are not enough the skills portion is more than challenging with different games for the single player to multiplayers attempting to show off their skill. The game allows for the player to experience a varied game play that no longer restricted to a limited range of options. For a sports game FIFA 13 is definitely something you don’t have to be a soccer fan to play. You can be a regular gamer playing the game for the first time and just enjoy it for its game play and fun. The people over at EA have really moved FIFA into the realm of gaming and out of the sports nut closet. I’m excited to see what comes next for this storied franchise.

Ruzzle Game Review

Ruzzle is an iPhone/android word game that resembles a combination of Boggle and Scrabble. Ruzzle was released in March of 2012 but did not explode in the American market until January 2013. This two-player game gives the user the opportunity to play with friends or seek a random opponent. There are three rounds lasting two minutes each in which the main goal is to gather the most amount of points each round and end with the largest total points. The board is set up with sixteen total tiles (set up in a four by four square formation) with each tile containing a letter with an assigned value. These values are identical to those assigned to letters in the game Scrabble. More frequently used letters such as “a” or “t” (both earning “1 point”) are assigned lower values while less commonly used letters such as “k” (earning a “5 points”) or “x” (earning a “8 points”) are assigned higher values. Points are achieved by creating words by connecting letters horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. The game offers another feature similar to that of Scrabble by giving players the opportunity to utilize double and triple word/letter scores in order to garner the most points.


At the end of every round, each player receives a summary of how they measured up and what their achievements were. On this summary page, the players accuracy, longest word, swipe distance, number of words, best scoring word, and finally how player one’s score compares to that of player two. Although the only feature of this “score sheet” that actually counts towards who is victorious is the final score, this allows one to play against other people and oneself.  If one is not able to beat their opponent, they can at least monitor their improvement over time, giving the game a much more three-dimensional aspect. There is also an achievement’s section that tracks the player’s different accomplishments. For example, the Not Now achievement is a reward for receiving a phone call while playing and the Juggernaut achievement is for winning against the same opponent ten times. This is the gamemaker’s attempt at increasingly replay value. By setting new goals for the players, theoretically they will have more to achieve and will continue playing the game.


The game includes a feature that allows it to be connected to Facebook and allows the user to compete against Facebook friends and Twitter followers and then posts victories and failures on Facebook. In addition, players can choose to compete against random opponents if the have exhausted the list of Facebook friends and/or want someone new to play against. By allowing the user to have a seemingly infinite amount of people to play with and allowing the user to play against familiar faces, Ruzzle incorporates the best of both worlds.


When it comes to the graphics and sound effects, both are fairly commonplace. The graphics are nothing special as to not to distract the player from channeling their inner dictionary. On the other hand, the sound effects are nothing if not annoying and distracting. The game begins with a typical chime intro and concludes with a loud gong. However, these are not the troubling sound effects. Rather the ones that accompany each successfully formed word or failure to do so. As the word length increases so does the length of the accompanying sound effect. The sounds that accompany failed attempts are alarming and distracting, inhibiting brain flow to immediately think of the next attempted word. Perhaps the worst sound effect of all is the loud ticking of the clock in the last ten seconds of the game. This not only adds pressure but hinders the player’s ability to actually make a last ditch effort to win the round.


The concept of the game is easy to pick up and quite easy to master. However, if you play random opponents you are more than likely to encounter a wide variety of skill sets. Some are excellent and you are destroyed instantaneously while others are pitifully terrible, making the game far to easy. By not adopting the idea of levels, Ruzzle fails to match people of similar skill sets. Rarely do you ever encounter someone whose skills are comparable to those of your own. Therefore the game becomes boring (for those who excel so far beyond their opponent) or excessively frustrating (for those who immediately fall too far behind to ever catch up). In addition, for those who wish to play random opponents, the waiting time can be a few minutes. Games such as these are designed for immediate play. They are made to take up short amounts of time otherwise spent doing nothing (for example waiting for the bus or in between classes). This waiting time can cause the window to close, or be shortened exponentially, therefore rendering the game useless at times.


The replay value of the game is initially very high. If you like word games, upon picking up Ruzzle, you’ll be hooked. However, after a couple dozen plays, it seems like you’re using the same words and beating/losing to the same people. There is no added challenge. Your skill level peaks and so does your interest. With other simple mobile games like Candy Crush, each level presents a new challenge with the same basic concept and they get progressively harder. However, the only difference from one Ruzzle game to the next is the combination of letters available and after a while it all seems the same. Overall, this is a fantastic once in a while game. However, it lacks the replay value to give it longevity and addictiveness.

killer7 Review

killer7 is many things, but one thing it’s not is similar to anything else. Published by Capcom and coming from the strange and skewed mind of notorious developer Suda51, killer7 is a game that defies both expectation and explanation in many ways. A striking and entirely unique package of action-adventure gameplay, the game is inarguably stripped down and minimalist, but at the same time splashing with flavor—Suda51 is known for his eccentricity and few of his games are as demonstrative of that as this one here. killer7‘s intensely stylish aesthetic and tight gameplay has garnered it a substantial amount of cult appeal, and the copious amounts of sex, blood, and F-bombs give its a serious edge to boot.

The game follows the bizarre chronicle of a group of super assassins known as the “killer7.” Set on an alternate version of Earth and hired by the US government to combat a virus-infected terrorist faction called the “Heaven Smile,” the killer7 are actually a collection of personae exhibited by the group’s leader, Harman Smith. Harman, an elderly wheelchair-bound assassin, has “Multifoliate Personae Phenomenon,” a unique condition that allows him to physically manifest the seven extensions of his personality. As a player, you cycle through that collection—the killer7—as you engage the game’s puzzles and enemies, using the different assassin’s unique strengths and abilities when necessary.

I liked just about all the killer7: Garcian, the dominant personality and liaison between Harman, the rest the personae, and the outside world; Dan, a Spike Spiegel lookalike whose all-around game makes him one of the best to play with; Kaede, who Suda made nightgown-sexy and suicide-weird all at once, is particularly useful for her distance-scoped pistol; Kevin, who never speaks but is one of the best in a scramble because his throwing knives are the only weapons that don’t need to be reloaded; Coyote, a hyper-athletic thief that carries a big revolver; Con, a blind teenager with enhanced hearing who’s superfast and wields dual automatic pistols; and Mask, a hulking luchador with double mini grenade launchers. Mask de Smith was possibly my favorite, which turned out to be kind of awesome since he happened to go through a few transformations (the only personality to do so) that eventually changed him from an almost uselessly slow guy with cool headgear to one of the most powerful personalities in battle.

The gameplay itself can be tough to describe. It’s an action/adventure game rooted in the principles of an on-rails shooter—you can move forward and backward across a level as you like, but only along predetermined paths. At its core the gameplay is actually quite simple, and at times can feel limiting—especially considering the game was released at a time when more open-ended adventures like Grand Theft Auto were reaching new heights in popularity. Despite the relative simplicity, there are still a few issues technically—specifically, hit recognition can be off at times, as enemies like the Backwards Smile (which require specific spots to be tagged) didn’t consistently respond as they were designed.

Each personality plays differently and can (for the most part) be switched to at anytime—Con Smith darts around really fast, Kaede can snipe away from afar, Coyote is the only one that can leap high enough to access certain places, etc. Garcian only has a low powered pistol to his name, but he’s arguably the most essential of the seven—if one of the other personalities is killed, Garcian can resurrect them. In addition to just sharp shooting, the levels demand a good amount of knowledge of the killer7’s unique skills and inventory of special items to progress on without getting stumped or stopped. The game does a solid job of implementing each persona’s special abilities throughout the levels often without feeling gimmicky or contrived.

Like pretty much every aspect of killer7, the gameplay is unique, experimental even, and despite some hiccups the effort is a success. The battles are exciting and largely remain so later in the game regardless of its repetitious, episodic structure. Still, the formulaic “fight, explore, fight, puzzle, explore, fight, collect, end-level Coliseum, boss” sequence for every single level did seem like a weird choice. On the one hand, it’s the one bit of structure in an otherwise very zany gameworld—on the other, though, the repetition was such that it was detractingly noticeable.

The stylistic impact of Suda51’s touch cannot be understated. Visually, the cel-shaded graphics and contrasting colors combine for something really unique—no other game looks like this. To put it simply, it looks “cool.” No better way to say it. The game’s striking visual look is complemented by a pumping and appropriately eclectic soundtrack, and between the two the game is at once aggressively artful and dastardly sinister in mood and appearance. Wrapping the unconventional gameplay and story with these aesthetic and audio components leaves us with a package dripping with creativity, violence and style, if not a bit of that “made in Japan” weirdness.

While certainly not beautifully written or engagingly accessible, the plot is oddly compelling. By the time things really jump off you have questions and care about the answers, all the while trying to wrap your mind around the dark, wacky, twisted tale of the bizarre and the supernatural. Harman is in a high-stakes, winner-take-all (metaphorical and literal) chess match with the mysterious and powerful Kun Lan, the central antagonist and possessor of the supernatural “Hand of God,” responsible for releasing the Heaven Smile virus. The purposes and goals behind their soul-snatching power plays eventually unveil themselves in gripping and jarring fashion, as do the dark details of the histories of the various killer7. Throughout it all, events are peppered with repeat appearances by remnant psyches of their past victims like the cryptic Travis Bell, the crews’ first victim, or the strange, bondage suit-wearing Iwazaru—the whole thing is appropriately strange but eventually reaches a satisfying conclusion with less loose ends than you’d expect.

killer7 is wildly stylish, atmospherically devious, eccentric in concept, and crisp in execution. That being said, despite being right up my alley in those regards I still noticed some small missteps in the minimalist gameplay and recognize that the graphic violence and sexuality might not be for everyone. In the end, the game is worthy of its cult acclaim and earns a score of 4 stars out of 5.

Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine Review


The Discotheque job should have been easy. The Gentleman had insisted. Get in, get the Redhead, and get out. The Pickpocket’s monkey Hector had been sneaking along the dance floor, collecting change when it all hit the fan. The Hacker had been caught in the coat check and the Lookout had been doing her best to revive him when a guard took her out too. The Pickpocket was too far away to help. It was up to me. I only had one smoke bomb left. I sneaked through the lounge, hoping I could put it to good use.

Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine is a colorful indie stealth game, developed by Pocketwatch Games and published by Majesco Entertainment. You and up to three friends take on the roles of members of a group of master thieves in dangerous need of a ticket out of the country. When they draw upon the help of the mysterious Gentleman, they find themselves committing more and more crimes, getting richer but deeper and deeper into trouble.

The game’s stylized retro graphics are presented from a top down perspective. Each of the eight playable character has unique skills and an identifying neon color. The Locksmith is blue and picks door and safe locks faster than any other character. The Lookout is red and allows players to locate unseen enemies and civilians. The Mole is purple and can break holes in walls. Up to four can compose a team of thieves who sneak and steal their way through over a dozen missions full of collectible coins and dangerous guards. The play is given further dynamism by the incorporation of weapons and tools: shotguns, wrenches (equally good for expediting lock picking and bludgeoning guards to death), smoke bombs and more. The game is difficult but fair; cleverly executed visual and sonic clues tip you off to in game occurrences and the mechanics are clearly presented and understandable.

As the story unfolds from mission to mission, an increasing amount of savvy is required to complete objectives, as nightstick wielding embassy guards give way to sniffer dogs and security agents with machine guns. It’s preferable to sneak through the levels quietly, hiding in bushes or vents to escape curious guards, but in case of emergency a little bit of smash and grab or wrench fueled murder isn’t out of the question. The game is in fact more exciting when things get hectic, as you run from guards, trailing bloody foot prints and panting, looking for a corner or vent to hide in.

Though the story is thin, its spartan nature is to its advantage. The abstract graphics and short but entertaining dialogue vignettes between missions give the game an air of mystery and intrigue, allowing the player to fill in the blanks. Fans of heist movies will enjoy imagining the particulars of every mission. Another clever aspect of the story telling is that the challenge levels—harder versions of normal missions, are articulated as being the Pickpocket’s side of the story, rather than the Locksmith’s. This situating of the challenge levels as being in diegesis is one of the many clever touches that make Monaco such a delight. The game in general is incredibly immersive despite its abstraction, with NPCs speaking in French and the levels brilliantly realized aesthetically. Hearing a civilian yell “Guard!” in a Monagesque accent is delightful.

Though the game can be played single player, it’s best played with one to three friends. The more characters, the more abilities at hand to give you an edge in your heists. At the same time there is further room for error, and Monaco is one of the rare but pleasurable games where failing can be a memorable and fun occasion. Trial and error are often necessary to be able to put together the right team to clean out the levels efficiently and safely. I primarily played the game with a pair of friends (favorite characters Locksmith and Lookout respectively). I found the Mole to be fun, myself. The game experience included a great deal of laughter and cheering as we triumphed or failed from mission to mission.

Multiplayer adds other levels of strategy as well. Who picks what items and collects what coins becomes an important element. Every 10 coins gives you an extra smoke bomb, shotgun round, etc. so if one player collects an inordinate amount of coins, they’ll find themselves hogging all the ammo. No one can be left behind as well; if a player goes down, their friends have to come to the rescue and revive them. This becomes equal parts hilarious and nail biting when an ally finds themselves down for the count in the line of a security sensor or in front of a guard’s post. Needless to say, team work is incredibly important, and there’s nothing like co-op to enrich a night of gaming.

All in all I heartily recommend Monaco. It’s a delightful indie game that shows that big innovation and design can come in small packages. Clever level design, challenging and diverse game play, a unique cast of characters and in general excellent design all around make Monaco one of the most delightful treats of the year. Its value is only increased by the fact that it costs only $14.99 on Steam, or $44.99 for a four pack you can split with friends. As cheap as it is, you could say it’s almost a steal.

Game Review: Black Ops II

Call of Duty Black Ops II, a first person shooter of the Call of Duty franchise that began in 2003, is the 2012 sequel to the original Black Ops of 2010 and features three different game modes for players to explore, including the traditional campaign, online multiplayer, and the zombie game mode.  As one of the best selling game franchises of all time, Call of Duty sets the standard for first person shooters across all platforms, offering gamers the virtual experience of warfare and combat.

The Black Ops II campaign continues of the previous Black Ops story, following both Alex Mason and his son David Mason in an extended battle against Nicaraguan terrorist Raul Menendez.  Straying from the archetype Call of Duty campaign, Treyarch developers incorporated a nonlinear-style timeline into this Call of Duty single player campaign mode, including flashbacks between the first Cold War and the fictional 2025 Cold War between USA and China. Also, this campaign enables multiple endings, where in-game decisions and mission outcomes permanently affect the ending that the user experiences upon the conclusion.

As far as gameplay, I found that after playing through the first half of the campaign, the storyline of Black Ops II was defiantly hard to follow, where at times I did not know why I was going through certain missions or my characters purpose.  Another aspect of the Black Ops II campaign that I found troubling and frustratingly presented was the new addition o thef Strike Force missions, which are side missions alongside the main campaign, where the user controls various “future” warfare devices to ward off incoming waves of enemies.  I found these missions difficult to complete successfully, and the outcomes of these side missions would impact the ending of the storyline of the campaign.  As far as graphics and sound design seen in the campaign, I thought the minimal improvement did not influence my desire to continue interacting with this part of the game.  At this point in the game, I decided to forgo the rest of the campaign in favor of trying out the multiplayer and zombie game modes.

The next facet offered in this installment of Call of Duty is the continuation of the Zombie game mode, featuring the capability to team up with three other players and take on endless hordes of the undead.  With the additional downloadable content currently available, the Zombies game mode allows gamers to embark on the struggle to survive in three different locations, most notably, Alcatraz Island, entitled Mob of the Dead.   With the zombie game mode, the replay value of Black Ops II exponential rises, as each round that the player undertakes leaves him or her desiring to better their time of survival, as there is no possible way to “win”.  Also adding to the replay value of this game mode is the extreme amounts of detail incorporated into the game design, which creates a unique and engrossing environment that instills a sense of fear and distress each time the user embarks on this mission.

Within the zombie game mode, Black Ops II also offers a brand new game mode entitled “Grief”, which places a total of eight players into two separate teams that battle it out to see which team can survive the longest.  While skeptical upon entering this game mode for the first time, I was pleasantly surprised by the design and implementation of “Grief”, as it capitalizes on all of the previously mention successful aspects of zombies, while simultaneously combining a competitive team driven experience.

Finally, Black Ops II obviously offers a massively multiplayer experience through the online multiplayer game mode, where gamers can battle hundreds of thousands of other players from across the globe.   As expected, there are a variety of included and downloadable maps to explore while battling others, from a skate park to a plane crash site, and overall I found the diversity and detail in this maps to be pretty well produced and detailed while playing the online mode.

The multiplayer experience of Black Ops II is overall very similar to previous Call of Duty games; however there are a few changes I find that both help and hurt this game mode. One of these alterations seen in this game is the addition of a “pick ten system”, where the user is allowed more free rein when it comes to building your classes, which include guns with attachments, secondary weapons, explosives, and perks.  I find this addition to be one of the positive changes to the original Call of Duty multiplayer layout, as it encourages a more liberating experience, where I as the gamer can ultimately choose what items I want to use in battle.  However, I believe that this “pick ten system” should be implemented in an even freer manner, as the gamer is still limited in some fashions even with this system in place.

One of the alterations the gamer experiences, which I find to be one of the more negative changes in Black Ops II, is the addition of skill-based match making.  Implemented to filter the game lobbies that players were placed in when finding a multiplayer game, this system organizers gamers based on their calculated skill level, placing similarly skilled players into the same game lobby.  While in theory this system may sound ideal, however I find that this system does not allow for gamers to casually play and enjoy online multiplayer games, as each player is required to constantly put up their best efforts.  This ultimately prevents users from experimenting with other weapons or accessories, as the use of only a limited number of weaponry will allow the gamer to perform at consistent high levels.

Overall, I would recommend Call of Duty Black Ops II to any gamer who enjoys first person shooters, as this game provides a generally well designed interface, that allows users to actively challenge their skills in virtual gaming warfare not only through campaign play, but through battling zombies with friends or challenging others around the world in a multiplayer environment.

Game Review: Candy Crush Saga

I was never one to play Facebook games. I was one of the many people that were beyond sick of the number of Farmville requests I was getting every single day. I could not understand how someone could be so addicted to a game on Facebook. I used my Facebook to share pictures, stay in touch with old friends and connect with new ones- all of the social aspects of Facebook. However, one day a few months back, after weeks of me saying no, a friend of mine finally got me to play a game called Candy Crush Saga…and from that day on, I have not stopped playing.

Candy Crush Saga has a striking resemblance to a game many people may remember called Bejeweled. Just like bejeweled, you have to switch candies around to make a line of three or more of the same candy to make them disappear. Candy Crush Saga takes this concept to a whole new level. If you match up 4 of more candies in a line you can create a special candy. For example, 4 candies in a row creates a striped candy which will take out the entire row (vertically or horizontally) that it is in. My favorite is when you create a row of five and a black ball of candy appears and when switched with any candy creates and explosion that gets rid of most or all of the candies of the color you switched it with. As an added bonus, when you switch two of these special candies that are next to each other, they create a combined reaction of the two!

There are hundreds of levels on Candy Crush (I think last time I checked they were up to 365) and they have been creating more and more because of the massive popularity this game has achieved. One of the things that I like a lot about Candy Crush is that not every level has the same objective. In some levels, you just have to achieve a certain score and sometimes you only have a certain amount of time to achieve this score. There are also levels where you have to clear jelly blocks off of the board by matching candy within them. Another type of level is one where you have to drop ingredients down from the top of the screen to the bottom. The catch is that you only get a certain number of moves to do all of this in. The beginning levels are very simple but as you move through the levels they get harder and harder. Part of the reason the levels get harder is as you get farther into the game new obstacles are presented. One example of these obstacles is bombs (I won’t go into what exactly they are because I don’t want to give it away but just know…they are quite the problem!).

Part of the reason I have become so hooked on Candy Crush Saga is that not only can you play it on Facebook; you can play it on your android, tablet and pretty much any other handheld device. Candy Crush Saga can be downloaded onto your device and will also sync with your Facebook so that you do not lose your progress. I love to sit at home and play Candy Crush Saga on my laptop but the fact that I can play it on my phone makes it so that I can play it anywhere (it comes in handy for long car rides or other things such as sitting in the waiting room at the doctor’s office).

Visually, Candy Crush Saga is a delightful game to play. As you level up, you move through a colorful world that has quite the resemblance to the old board game, Candy Land. You are on a train moving through worlds with names like “Bubblegum Bridge”, “Candy Factory”, or “Lemonade Lake”. Also on this map, you can see the where each of your friends stand. Their picture appears next to whichever level they are currently on.

This brings us to the social aspect of Candy Crush Saga. The fact that you can see what level your friends are on gives it a competitive aspect and you are constantly trying to keep up with or get ahead of your friends. You can also see your friends’ high scores for each of the levels that they have completed. Even if you do not pay attention to the part, you have to rely on your friends later in the game. When you complete a world, in order to get to the next world you have to ask and receive three tickets from any of your Facebook friends. Also, you only have five lives. Once you run out, you have to wait a certain amount of time before you get anymore or your friends can send you lives. Your friends can also send you certain power-ups such as one that gives you three extra moves. The game alerts your friends when you have been stuck on a level for a long time to prompt them to send you this power-up.

There is one downside to Candy Crush Saga. It may be free to play, but there are certain things that if you want, you have to pay for. There are a lot of really helpful power-ups that your friends cannot send you. For example, the lollipop hammer allows you to crush any candy of your choice. As you play, the game gives you these power-ups as you complete worlds but you only get a few of them and then after that if you want them again you have to pay for them. I have been on the same level for weeks and know how helpful it would be to buy a power-up and it seems that at some point in the game, it will be impossible to beat the levels without buying power-ups. Also, if you cannot find enough friends to send you tickets to get to the next world, you have to pay to get to the next world. Same thing goes for lives, if you do not want to wait the time to get more lives and no one sends you any, you have to pay to get more.

Overall I think Candy Crush Saga is a great game besides the fact that it still tries to make you spend your money. It is just the right amount of addicting. It is easy to get frustrated and walk away from the game for a day or two but not impossible to the point where you want to give up on the game completely. No matter how many times you fail on a level, the fun atmosphere of the game and the motivation you get from the social aspects of the game keep you coming back for more! Anyone can play this game from anywhere and it is available to you even if you do not have a Facebook.

Review: Transformers Legends for iOS and Android

Being interested in Transformers when I was a kid made this game stand out for me and overall I have to say that it is a great way to kill hours.  This is another of the phone platform games that allows the player to download and play for free but leaves the player behind if they are not willing to pay for points as well as virtual dollars.  The game is based on the Transformers universe from the late eighties and features the characters on trading cards which the players can put together a 9 person team to battle one another and participate in events.

Developed by Mobage, a mobile games designer who specializes in these virtual trading card games has adapted everyone’s favorite Transformers characters into deck building and leveling up adventure.  The player can go into missions that will use up energy that only items and time can restore at the rate of 1 point per minute as well as participate in Player vs. Player battles where each player pits there best nine cards against the other.  The battles use cubes which the player has initially three of and can only regenerate with items and time.  Although there are not any videos to elaborate on the story they did provide the player with great visuals on each card.  Each card has the character artfully rendered on it while cards that are rated as rare of higher have a 3D effect to them, as the player moves their phone the layers of the card move independently giving it the appearance of Three dimensions.  This effect is great as well as the graphics for these cards are really crisp and eye catching but for a classic transformers fan like me the fact that they used the classic looks for the characters makes it that much better.  The menus and the options screens as well as the mission screens are simple but are in high definition making it appealing to the user.  The graphics are simple yet rendered well giving them an 8/10.

Unlike other games of this genre that I have researched this game is very fast making the wait times between commands minimal, this is great especially since leveling up often causes the player to repeat similar tasks to achieve the proper amount of points.  They also do not require the player to reload the page to see new events as they appear unlike most, but due to this constant searching for new information the game will decimate the devices battery.  A recent update has taken the constant search for updates and has made it a few seconds reducing the effects a little but playing this game for longer than an hour will put you in the red.  This makes battery consumption relatively high for this game making it hard to play often on the go.  For battery consumption which is a major factor when playing these types of games, I give it a 3/10.

Using an epic soundtrack the game has a great presence using horns to provide a sound similar to the new Star Trek theme as well as other orchestra instruments to give the user a grand experience.   Although they have not made a unique sound for each stage or even every boss battle they have made a different track to emphasize the different modes which include battles and missions as well as special events.  Each button pressed provides an electronic sound that blends well with the theme of the game as well as provides confirmation.  Upon entering a battle with another player the audio switches to a more menacing and serious track with sounds accompanying each of the different types of weapons.  I give the Audio for this simple game a 6/10.  I think it is fantastic as far as adding to the theme of the game but is simple and would pale in comparison to console or PC games.  So to put this in perspective I would be hard pressed to give any iOS /Android game anything over a 7/10.

The user interface provides the user with a simple yet sleek design that places many of its important features within reach making navigation very simple.  The designers could have anticipated needs a little better, throughout the game the player find themselves having to use the home key in order to get back to where the options are but due to being a simple game with more emphasis of deck building and tactics the player doesn’t often feel rushed to have to be able to access any of these options quickly.  They have done a great job of keeping with the theme and presented the idea in an easy to learn way so I would give the controls and user interface a 6/10.

This game is simple yet with the deck building and almost infinite combinations of characters and weapons it adds a certain twist making it very addicting.  Like with many games of this kind there are different levels of characters that can be found and won.  Even though you may become bored with the game at one point having made the best group that you could, before you know it your interest is peeked again with the arrival of an Ultra Rare card.  When a player just starts they are not stingy with free cards as well as having options to automatically generate the best deck.  This is a great feature for players that are just getting started allowing them to still use the game without necessarily knowing what makes the best deck.  Each character has three stats and multiple percentage bonuses, Health, Attack, and Defense.  The bonuses are provided for certain events such as having the card at max level, trans-scan(when two cards are combined to form a complete character), weapon type bonus, and signature weapon bonus to name a few.  This brings me to another crucial difference that makes this game a little more interesting, in most card games the player can evolve his cards by obtaining 2 of any one character to form a stronger version of the character, and Transformers uses not two like characters but its two different modes.  The player combines or “Trans-Scans” the robot mode and the vehicle mode card to create the final card which is more powerful than each was individually.  A feature that has been dropped is the change in the look in the evolved cards that often happens in other games but due to the creative and fantastic drawings in Transformers I am fine with this.

After reading several comments from others, Mobage has left out a crucial part to this game compared to its peers and that is the trading and the team aspect.  This removes most of the social interaction from the game having allies as only a way to give yourself points each day but when there is no trading making upper level combinations becomes very difficult, where the player will have many of one character but cannot find the alternate version to evolve it with.  I have done some further research and this may be due to issues in the past which have occurred due to people taking advantage of these features to hurt other players.

Transformers is a beautiful game that has managed to combine all of its features well into a fun tactical game that keeps the player occupied for hour each day trying to stay on point with the competition.  With new events occurring often providing new challenges each week and the release of newer and stronger cards the game has been able to capture and keep the attention of a couple hundred thousand players worldwide, no easy feat in todays flooded market of iOS and Android games.  Overall I believe the game can use a few updates to provide better button placement, trading, and different types of events to keep things interesting but it is well developed and engaging.


OVERALL:            6 out of 10

Graphics:             8 out of 10

Audio:                   7 out of 10

Controls:              6 out of 10

Battery Life:       3 out of 10

**All rankings are based on all gaming platforms


Zynga—Facebook’s highest grossing gaming application developer—recently released Coasterville, the new millennium’s Roller Coaster Tycoon.

Players start with one green plot to begin an endless field of possibility in this amusement park-management simulation game. They can expand on, construct, customize, and control the park according to their imaginings.

The game’s thematically designed, realistic, and charming characters introduce players to the storyline and goals, providing clear tips, direction, and indicators of progress or achievement. From the beginning players are overwhelmed and excited by visual and aural stimuli: stars, rocket ships, fireworks, confetti, and coins that pop up every time the player levels up—where they then find new characters, quests, rides, attractions, and facilities available for play-hard earning.

The experience is entirely customizable. The player can design the amusement park theme of their choice, and the game then provides specifically designated goals which help the player achieve that chosen theme. Players also have the option of not choosing a specific theme at all for their park; that is the beauty of simulation games like Coasterville: the player has the ability to project their personal preferences onto a pre-designed grid to create their own perfect world. They can choose the roads, the decorations, the rides, and the orderliness or disorderliness.

Each ride, shop, attraction, or facility goes through various levels of upgrades via various goal completions. Like a real life brick and mortar establishment everything in the business starts small and gets bigger and bigger.

The rides, shops, attractions, and facilities are not the only upgradeable thing, of course. Not only are these rides, shops, attractions, and facilities upgradeable, but by unlocking expansions for the park grounds themselves, additional options are unlocked to the player. Essentially, the bigger the land, the more amenities the player’s park can hold. As the amount of park amenities increase, so do the activities and choices available for gameplay.

Once there is enough land available (or unlocked) a player can even take the items earned during theme-oriented goals and create distinct sections of the park so each area has a different theme. The player can have a medieval theme with items catered to that design, or they can have an old western theme—each decoration crafted to match the chosen mood. If you’ve ever been to a Busch Gardens, you get the idea. If the player chooses the medieval theme for example, there are rides, shops, attractions, and facilities available for construction and earning that correspond with the player’s chosen theme. Coasterville’s gameplay is entirely accommodating in that regard.

All of the rides are upgradeable, but most come with a default design; the roller coasters are the most customizable attraction. They can be expanded on and painted with the player’s color choice, and each section of the coaster can be constructed whatever way a player likes. Coaster options in the game offer the player different loops, twists, drops, and tunnels available for a personalized coaster design. Again, the bigger the park grounds, the bigger the coaster’s expansion and customization.

Social networking is also a major part of game progression on Coasterville, as players need the items only their friends can send to complete certain given tasks—those tasks which also permit further fun. For players, helping a friend complete a goal or finish items, especially when they are both working toward the same goal, also encourages the sense of a shared experience that goes beyond typical online activity.

Gaming on social network applications—like Coasterville on Facebook—is so much greater than solo PC gaming—like Roller Coaster Tycoon on Windows or Xbox—because on Coasterville and games like it, the game itself expands the more friends a player accumulates.

Although players don’t have to interact directly in social network simulation games, they progress by sharing with their friends and their friends progress by reciprocating. Friends can send coins to purchase park expansions, park decorations, and other items needed to build certain rides or attractions.

One thing that distinguishes Coasterville from other Zynga applications on Facebook is a player’s option to join the “Coasterville Community” which allows gameplay with others without having to add them directly as a Facebook friend. Not only is this good for privacy, but it contributes greatly to being able to progress faster in this game than in games without the community play option.

Because players have the ability to build and then almost endlessly upgrade rides, shops, attractions, and facilities; to create perfectly themed worlds through consistently designed game options; to build and rebuild, disorganize and reorganize; to expand not only on these features, but also on the virtual space available for these features, Coasterville isn’t a game that ends as soon as it begins. Gameplay is endless, and provides an endlessly satisfying and continually active virtual reality.

The player’s amusement park world works on its own thanks to Zynga’s crafty designers. Everything that the player sets up works individually with continual motion and activity. If the player designed a circus-themed park, for example, the jester-jugglers walk around the park without having to be clicked on or prompted in any way. Players must activate their rides if they are gone for an extended period of time, but once activated, the rides move: the Ferris wheel turns, the coaster slides, the bumper cars bump. Park visitors walk around, wait in lines, and can be seen riding, eating, smiling, etc… The player can even make their park visitors throw up by boosting a coaster to the extreme!

Because a player needs virtual energy to construct, customize, expand, and complete quests, the only thing that may frustrate players is running out of energy or coins needed for task completion. These things, however, are what keep the player coming back for more.

The game’s design is easy to work with, and its theme—combining the fun of amusement parks with the fun of video games—stands alone. Being able to customize and manage an amusement park to one’s own personal liking, with every necessary resource sharply, clearly, colorfully, and engagingly available at their fingertips, Coasterville becomes a game everyone can enjoy.