The skateboarding genre is relatively untapped in the App Store. Games like Skater Nation and Skate It shined in their day, but they have since grown old and stale. A new open-world skateboard game from Ratrod Studio has just landed on iTunes and it plays like a blast from the past.
Controls are the selling point for this game. In most games, controls are what make or break the bank, and in Mike V: Skateboard party they nailed it. A joystick controls movement while 4 buttons are arranged in an orbital fashion to pull of jumps, grinds and almost any trick imaginable. Just about everything about the controls can be adjusted, from the size of the buttons to their placement. While the controls are smooth, the player movement is a bit clunky. When you start moving, there will be a bit of a lurch and then you will zoom off. But this doesn’t detract from the whole experience.
Another area that shines in this game is customization. From, looks, to shoes, to boards wheels and trucks, nearly everything about your player can be customized. Even better, almost everything that you change, from trucks to shoes, will affect how you play the game. This alone earns Ratrod Studio a big round of applause because no other mobile skateboarding game has really gone this deep.
In terms of variety of gameplay, Ratrod Studio has done a marvelous job as well. Any open-world skateboarding game, no matter how great it looks or plays, will bore gamers to death if all you do is ride around in one area with absolutely no goal. This game excels here in that you have 5 “massive” locations to choose from along with three game modes, Career, Versus Multiplayer, and Free Ride. The locations are all fairly expansive and although devoid of life, there are plenty of obstacles and ramps to jump over, ride around, grind on, or ram into. Different themes like the dark indoor skatepark or junkyard and the more pleasant, open community center shake up the mood of the game and add the overall console-like experience. In Career mode, you will play to gain experience and upgrade your character. Upgrades range from speed and balance to spin, and leveling up these traits will help you dominate in multiplayer. In the Versus Multiplayer mode, you compete against one other player and see who can rack up the most points. Share your scores and domination via built-in Twitter and Facebook integration. This is a pretty big addition to the other two game modes, and the social aspect gives the game a competitive edge. Free Ride speaks for itself. Just pick a location, and practice your tricks.
From the standpoint of someone who has played almost every console Tony Hawk game along with all of the iPhone skateboarding games like Skater Nation, Skate It, Mike V: Do or Die, TouchGrind etc., Skateboard Party is a near console-like experience. Although graphic quality needed to be compromised a bit to support lower-end devices, they still look better than the older skateboarding games. Also, with all of the features that are included in the game, it is amazing that this is an iOS game. Definitely join the party and see what all the buzz is about. Mike V: Skateboard Party is selling at a mere $1.99.
Polarbit is no stranger to the AppStore, and their games are not lost on iOS gamers either. Fuzzies, Raging Thunder, Armageddon Squadron, and more, have all invaded iDevices, and marked their territory. The next obsession for Polarbit fans is now here; Tank Riders. This 3D tank battle game with both single and multiplayer modes offer up some pretty exciting gameplay.
You’ll guide a tank through 25 campaign levels using one of two control schemes; a virtual joystick for movement, and tapping where you want to shoot, and two virtual joysticks, one for movement, and one for firing projectiles. However, the second control scheme requires that you tap on the joystick every time you want to shoot, which can kind of get frustrating in the heat of battle. There are 3 star rankings for each level, based on score, which does help add to the replay value a bit.
Within the levels, you’ll face off against enemy tanks in wonderfully designed 3D levels. There are wooden crates containing coins and health pick-ups, as well as coins scattered throughout the stages for you to pick up while taking out the enemies, following the path to the end of the level. There are some spots in the level which you can use as short-cuts, and pathways to hidden areas, but these are very hard to find, as no clues are given for where they are, ala Meganoid. It might not appeal to everyone, but it’s great for you gamers who love some exploration. There are also portals in some of the levels, which will transport your tank across water, and high areas, where you wouldn’t be able to reach otherwise. Switches which are activated by driving over them, or shooting at them, open up barricades to other areas as well, and will require some backtracking. You’ll also be able to find weapon and shield pick-ups, including mortars, and missiles, both inflicting way more damage than your standard laser shots, but these weapon pick-ups are not carried over between levels.
As you might have guessed, the graphics and animations are top notch, and a very good example of what Polarbit is capable of. The environments are fairly detailed, and very vibrant, with trees, little ponds, rocks, grassy areas, and fog around the edges which really smoothes everything out and brings it all together. The animations for movement, projectiles, explosions, along with the tracks that are left behind your tank in the ground, and teleporting are all great, and really make the game come alive.
Now, I’d love to get into where most people would like to be spending their time in the game; multiplayer. But after spending roughly a total of an hour and a half in the game room waiting for other players, I was saddened when NOT ONE other person showed up. So I can’t speak for what multiplayer is like, if it has lag, or if players have found cheats yet. I can say that there are 5 different maps to choose from, and they all look great from the small icon pictures of them that are shown, and there are no level systems, so everyone will start out with the same amount of health, defense, and weapons. Aside from that, I hope that sales pick up so that we can actually play multiplayer games.
Priced at $1.99, and being Universal, it’s a great buy. However, with multiplayer suffering, the lack of GameCenter, and only 25 single player levels, there’s not a whole lot of gameplay available at the moment. If sales pick up, I can see multiplayer becoming a big deal, especially if it’s got smooth gameplay. There are a couple of issues, like occasional short time freezing of the game, not triggered by anything specific as far as I can tell, and the sound cutting out for a short time if you get a call and come back to the game in-progress, all of which can be fixed with updates. Tank Riders is still a top notch tank battling game. One that looks and plays great, and is from a very responsive and supportive development group, so you know it’s only going to get better and better with future updates, which does make it fairly easy to recommend. If you’re a fan of the genre, or just action/arcade games in general, you should definitely pick it up, and help spread the word so we can get some multiplayer gaming on.
Multiplayer games on mobile devices have become a pretty big deal, especially within the first and third person shooter genres. I remember starting off with Eliminate, then moving onto Archetype, Exo-Planet, NOVA and Modern Combat. Now multiplayer fanatics have a new title to obsess over; Warm Gun by Emotional Robots, the first to use the Unreal Engine and it’s amazing graphics capabilities.
When Warm Gun was first released, it had quite a few framerate issues, making the game almost unplayable, even in it’s offline mode, but the developers over at E.R. released a patch updating the performance extremely quickly, and now gamers have a semi-playable version to blast away and talk smack through, though it still needs some performance tweaking, and because of that, it’s pretty hard to find someone online to play with. Not to worry though, because the Emotional Robots dev team is still hard at work to optimize the game and are trying to make it run as smooth as possible before doing anything else in regards to adding content.
You are able to play on or off line. In offline mode, you are able to choose between 5 different environments, each with different places to hide, open areas to battle it out, and different stories to climb up to and jump down from. You are also able to choose between 4 different characters; The 49’er, who has a pistol, shotgun, and Molotov cocktail. The Blacksmith, who has a HUGE hammer, massive machine gun, and exploding cans. The Shaman, who is equipped with an electrocution stick, SMG, and exploding bottles, and last, but not at all least, The Preacher, who wields dual pistols, a riffle, and also has exploding bottles. Each of the characters has their own strengths and weaknesses, and which one you pick and get comfortable with will depend on your style of play, but rest assured, there is a character for you. Offline Mode runs very smooth, and is a great place to learn the maps, and each of the different characters, and until the multiplayer mode picks up, and more players get online, as well as the framerate issues get fixed, you can expect to play in Offline Mode quite a bit.
Online Mode is the same for Offline Mode, except which map you play in is chosen by the game, and where you will see the biggest issue for the Emotional Robots team; lag/framerate isues. Because of the framerate issues, it makes it very hard to play online. Your character will jump around quite a bit, and dying when there is no one in front of you, and then all of a sudden a character appears there after you die is a very common occurrence. Also something that most players do not like about online play is that you are not given any stats after your match, so you’ll have no idea what your kill/death ratio was, or anything like that. However, one thing I was very glad to see is that there is no leveling up or experience points in the game, meaning that no matter who you’re matched up with, the game starts out on a level playing field. You will never have to worry about being matched with level 10 or 20 characters while you are a level 1 or 2, or anything like that, so once the issues are fixed, and there’s people actually playing online (as of now, you might be able to find one or two people playing online every 8 or 9 times you start up the game), the online play could really be something special. Also, online battles go through GameSpy, and not through GameCenter, which is better than great news, as GameCenter multiplayer matching is hell to deal with, and GameSpy servers are prepared, and stable enough to handle the onslaught of players that Warm Gun is expected to have in the future.
So, now to the graphics. As always, using the Unreal Engine results in some amazing, console-like graphics. The shadowing is great, and offers nice places to hide, the buildings and objects all have some amazing textures, and everything in the game has quite a bit of detail. The smooth running offline play is something you could feel great about showing off to your friends, and gives hope that more talented developers will start using the Unreal Engine in the future, as it really makes the long loading times and basic looking graphics of Game Salad and other engines pale in comparison.
For controls right now, there are 3 options. One joystick, dual sticks, or 3 joysticks, and all are able to use swiping on the screen to move, as well as tapping on the screen to fire. You can hold down the second or third joystick on the last two control options and keep firing while moving your crosshairs with pretty good precision. However, when moving around, and swiping on the screen, once you let go, you will keep spinning a little bit, making the precision for finding a character, stop movement and start firing pretty frustrating. The developers are looking into this though, and are working on implementing more of a Modern Combat type control scheme.
The big question, is Warm Gun worth the price? $5.00 for a Universal version, using the Unreal Engine, and, after the issues are taken care of, and people start actually getting online, what could possibly be the best multiplayer experience, surpassing even Modern Combat 2. It’s probably better to look at is as an investment. The developers are extremely active on the Touch Arcade forums, and are listening to feedback from every member who is posting there. They are hard at work on fixing the performance issues, as well as making the controls nice and tight, and giving players as many control options as they can, giving players the option to start up and host their own games, and adding more content to the game. When it is completed, what you will have is one of the most amazing online multiplayer FPS titles to ever come along on any mobile gaming device. Right now, it’s nice to have it to learn the maps, and characters, in preparation for when the game is stable enough for smooth and solid online play. If you’re a huge fan of multiplayer gameplay, Warm Gun is a must buy. If you’re still teetering on the idea of buying it, you should check out the companion title, Warm Gun: Carnival of Bullets; which is a sort of training course for Warm Gun. In it, you can get use to the controls, check out the brilliant graphics, and get to know the characters. You will not have access to the original title’s maps, but you will be able to get a really good feel for the game. But if you want instant gratification, you might be better off waiting for an update or two.