Archive for the ‘First-Person’ Category

N.O.V.A. – Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

N.O.V.A.

This game is stunning. This is truly a must-buy game for fans of First Person Shooters; excellent gameplay, lush environments, and spot-on controls. It’s basically “Halo for the iPhone”, with a full 13-mission campaign game, a diverse arsenal of weapons, and some of the best visuals we’ve seen on the iPhone. While it may be a little too much like Halo, with regard to level design and encounters, I won’t fault it too much, because we’re talking about an iPhone game being compared to multi-million dollar, triple-AAA console title; just getting in the ball park is admirable, in my book.

The controls are similar to Gameloft’s previous effort, Modern Combat: Sandstorm, in which the virtual left analog stick controls movement and strafing, while a touch-and-drag elsewhere on the screen controls freelook. A fairly generous aim-assist helps to zero in on targets and score headshots. This is more than adequate during the single-player game and serves its purpose in multiplayer as well. Oh, did I mention N.O.V.A. has a multiplayer component…?

N.O.V.A. players who want to rip some face can do so in local matches or online via Gameloft’s servers. The 4-player multiplayer mode currently can be experienced on 5 different maps that correspond to of each the game’s diverse tilesets. While it doesn’t offer the more robust upgrade system of it’s nearest competitor, Eliminate Pro (which is the other top contender for best iDevice FPS), I didn’t expect it to, because the single-player was the obvious focus of the game.

While moving through a lush jungle or trudging through snow-packed canyons, one almost forgets what mobile gaming used to be (Mobile Snake anyone?). The encounters are scripted like a PC title and the enemies believably react to the player. Full-fledged mission introductions are shown, complete with voice-over and a full story arc and, while it won’t be called the Citizen Cane of gaming (lol), the plot moves forward as well as to be expected.

The amount of effort poured into the development of this game is is evidenced in the high level of polish that shows through in almost all areas of the game, including art, audio, technical achievement, and gameplay.

Rating: ★★★★★ icon
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Ravensword: The Fallen King

Saturday, January 23rd, 2010

ravensword

At first, Ravensword feels like a decent attempt at making an Elder Scrolls-style game on a mobile platform. The player character wakes up in a small medieval town with…guess what…amnesia! The player must sort out the mystery of the evil sweeping across the land. This is the long-term goal, but just as any other RPG worth it’s salt, the short-term goals is to slaughter truckloads of rats first…pesky varmints. From the early presentation, my assumption was that the stage was set for an intricate progression curve to be min-maxed within an inch of its life by skill choices and gear selection, but it turned out not to be the case.

Character customization is almost non existent in this game. Sure, you kill stuff and gain levels to progress, but there are very few meaningful drops from monsters and a skill tree is nowhere to be found. You do pick up some rune stones that help you in some areas, but there is no full magic system. Two of the primary factors of great RPGs are deep character customization that involves frequent player choice on a diverse skill tree and a near-constant stream of new gear, upon which the player must sift through to find the best build. Unfortunately, there is no skill tree and the item game doesn’t provide nearly enough diversity and depth to keep the player interested.

The lack of these key features is really a shame, because the developers (just two guys, BTW) did get plenty of things right. The game has a wonderful soundtrack that evokes the medieval period brilliantly and the sound effects, like chirping birds and grunting beasties, are very convincing. The environments in this free-roaming 3D world are believable and interesting. The quest system works quite well to move the player through the story.  The lock-on combat system generally keeps the player in control, although it does suffer from the common problem that low melee attackers are hard to see. Your effectiveness in combat is limited only by your ability to press the pause button and guzzle a health potion. Wait, these were supposed to be positive comments! The best element of the game, for me, was the exploration and the accompanying feeling of discovery. That’s what kept me playing through the game; I wanted to see and hear what was next.

I attempted to enumerate not only the game’s flaws, but also its successes, because I do think it is a good game in some ways; just not the one I had hoped for. As a player, I’m definitely more suited to the Japanese-style RPG, such as Zenonia or even a more Western approach such as Dungeon Hunter (my favorite Diablo-style dungeon crawl on the iDevice, as of this writing). And for those that thought this game would be The Quest with better graphics, I hate to say it, but you will most likely be disappointed.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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Eliminate Pro

Monday, November 16th, 2009

After a brief heads-up last installment, I thought I would return with my impressions after having a chance to put the game through its paces. My verdict is…GET THIS. It’s a freakin’ online First Person Shooter on your iPhone! You learn the controls, which are decent, against bots and then quickly go online to rip face. Doing so provides credits that allow you to upgrade your gear, buy new weapons, and improve your stats. As I mentioned previously, the game itself is FREE, but the way they get your money is by Down-Loadable Content. After a few matches against real players, your health (energy) will be low. You either wait for hours for it to recharge, buy some for real money, or play without the possibility of obtaining credits. You want the credits, though, because upgrades make a noticeable difference in power. Frankly, I’m amazed by the level of customization offered, the steady framerate, and solid gameplay that this title provides. This game marks a milestone in iPhone game development, with regard to what is possible. Psst…first one’s FREE, kid.

Rating: ★★★★★ icon
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DOOM Resurrection

Saturday, July 4th, 2009

DOOM Resurrection

This is not DOOM classic. This one uses assets from DOOM 3, uses tilt-to-aim, and yes…it is on rails. Wait! Before you scoff and move on, it’s actually pretty fun. Wolfenstein 3D used FPS controls, and it worked okay, but this implementation frees up the player, and the hero, to do what he does best, trigger massive spouts of blood! The game also includes a common feature of arcade gun games, the duck-n-cover mechanic. Some monsters toss fireballs and the player must either quickly dodge the attack, which requires good timing, or duck behind a crate, which is a safer bet, but takes you out of the action. There are a variety of other mechanics, such as needing to shake the iPhone after the big zombie grabs you. There are plenty of story hits, but they don’t look that great, nor are they very interesting, in my opinion. I’m a big story guy, typically, but with this presentation and content, I would really rather just rip faces off.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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Myst

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

Myst

Myst is one of, if not, the most famous point-and-click adventure games ever produced. While some criticize it for being “just a slideshow”, respectfully, I think they are missing the point…and click. For its time, it was a brand new way of telling a story, one that included interaction from the “reader”. The player clicks through beautifully-rendered visions of a mysterious island, many with latent clues as to what went on there and why. Clues are sometimes subtle and don’t always make sense until you’ve explored more of the world, but that’s what makes it a compelling mystery.

Interaction consists of simple clicking and switch-pulling, in most cases, and while this level of interaction may seem limited (especially years later), it does serve its purpose to drive the story forward. While I don’t want to expose details of the story, I can tell you that the player enters various books that transports them to different “Ages”, each with their own riddles to solve.

Myst marks a milestone in game development, in which the sibling development team at Cyan, discovered and created a new form of gameplay. While it may not have been the first game to realize that the player could point at a hotspot and click, they did firmly grasp how computers could usher in a new form of storytelling and gameplay, and for that, it deserves recognition.

Rating: ★★★★☆ icon
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