148 Apps on Facebook 148 Apps on Twitter

Category: First Looks »

148Apps Goes Hands-On with Dead Effect 2

Posted by Jennifer Allen on September 23rd, 2015

Due for release on October 22, Dead Effect 2 is a first person shooter that’s clearly been influenced by the likes of BioShock and System Shock 2. Somewhat predictably for anyone who’s spent some time with those games, that means that Dead Effect 2 is at its strongest when it’s taxing your brain rather than your reactions.

It’s clearly still a work in progress, given that thetutorial is littered with references pertaining to keyboard controls, but it’s still looking rather delightful. As you’d expect with any sci-fi horror game, Dead Effect 2 is pretty dark and moody as you navigate your way around a spaceship full of puzzles to complete and zombies to annihilate.

A virtual joypad dictates your direction while the right hand side of the screen is littered with buttons for your weaponry, as well as interacting with objects. That’s one of the main issues for Dead Effect 2: on the iPhone 5’s screen, it can be too easy to tap on the wrong button, activating the wrong ability at the worst time. By default, auto-fire is switched on, meaning you can just hover the reticule over an enemy to shoot at it, but that ends up feeling a little weightless.

This becomes an issue when up against numerous zombies at once, meaning you feel like you’re fighting against the controls as much as the enemies. That’s in harsh juxtaposition to the slow but measured approach taken to figuring things out while away from combat. During those moments you’re expected to crack codes and use a bit of lateral thinking, which is immensely more satisfying and much easier to deal with on a smaller phone screen.

There’s time yet to see how this manifests in the full release and whether compensations are made for those with small screens and large fingers. In its current form, Dead Effect 2 is shaping up to be an appealing - but flawed- game.

Going Hands-On With LucasArts-Inspired Adventure, Deponia

Posted by Jennifer Allen on August 24th, 2015

Invoking the memories of classic LucasArts and Sierra games, I’ve got a good feeling about the once PC-only adventure game,Deponia. It’s not out until next month so it’s early days in terms of my time with it, but it offers an appealing return to adventures of old; warts and all.

Hands-On With Raceline CC

Posted by Jennifer Allen on July 1st, 2015

Set for release soon, Rebellion’s motorbike racing game, Raceline CC certainly looks stylish. But how does it play? I got my hands on a preview build to answer exactly that.

More like a drag racer than a conventional racing game, Raceline CC is going to be quite familiar to some. You play your way through various races, using up fuel before eventually having to wait for it to regenerate. Where Raceline CC grabs you a bit more noticeably is with its sense of speed.

Each race only takes around 30 seconds to complete. A quick and steady tap on the revs counter, and the rest is a matter of dodging around traffic. The key to reaching high speeds is to draft behind vehicles. There’s a visual indicator telling you when is best to pull around them, and there’s a real sense of satisfaction when you repeatedly dodge around cars. Do it just right and the race can be constantly frantic but ultimately very fast. Do it wrong, and you get stuck behind a vehicle and all the rhythm immediately vanishes.

One thing that stood out as a little different from the norm is a grid-based challenge, whereby you partake in a series of challenges for an ultimately good prize at the end. It at least feels more organized than some races.

It could turn tedious, though. All the areas I’ve seen so far look very similar, with the level of competition being the only thing really that distinguishes stages. There’s a plentiful supply of races to compete in with the usual bevy of daily challenges in there too, plus plenty of upgrades to pursue, but time will tell how enticing that will be after extended play.

We’ll be sure to let you know more about it when Raceline CC released on the App Store, later this summer.

Up Periscope - Our First Thoughts on Twitter's New Video App

Posted by Jessica Fisher on June 1st, 2015

When I first heard about Periscope, I was curious. What would it be like? What sort of broadcasts would come out of it? What new innovative ways would people find for it? The truth is I've found it addictive. I downloaded and sent out my very first broadcast on May 13. The short video was of my balcony and all my plants just as a trial to check out the features. No one watched, but it didn't really matter at the time.

Oh My Pixel! We Go Hands-on With The Knights of Pen & Paper 2nd Edition

Posted by Jessica Fisher on April 30th, 2015

I recently had a chance to play around with the upcoming Knights of Pen & Paper 2 from Paradox Interactive. I was a huge fan of the first game, so I had a lot of expectations going into it - and I wasn't disappointed. The game has gotten some serious upgrades including a sweet jump to 16bit graphics, new dynamically generated dungeons, and expanded crafting systems for equipment.

Square Enix Releases a Gorgeous New Trailer for Final Fantasy Mobius

Posted by Jessica Fisher on April 15th, 2015

Produced by Yoshinori Kitase, director of Final Fantasy VI and Chrono Trigger (among others), Final Fantasy Mobius is the next mobile game from the epic Final Fantasy series set to release on iOS. There is no word from Square Enix if there will be a US release, but we're crossing our fingers because the graphics look like they rival most console Final Fantasysand the fight scenes look pretty slick.

You can take a look at Final Fantasy Mobius in the video below.

Hands-On With Allstar Heroes - A Promising Casual RPG

Posted by Jennifer Allen on March 27th, 2015

Let’s get this out of the way quickly. Allstar Heroes looks a lot like a certain other recent action RPG release, but it turns out that while it’s not yet available here, Allstar Heroes has been around for much longer than that other title. Now that copyright row is out of the way, I can say that Allstar Heroes seems pretty fun.

It’s not out here yet, with a release date being vaguely hinted at sometime next month, but it’s shaping up to be a fairly solid release.

You gather a team of fighters, then go from stage to stage taking out the enemies in your wake. It’s a simple take on an RPG really, as it can be fairly hands-off if you want. Combat is conducted automatically with you able to cast special attacks as and when the power bar builds up. There’s a campaign mode as well as PvP options, giving you plenty to do.

The fun, as always with these kind of games, stems from developing your team. You can do a lot in terms of helping your team level-up, with equipment playing a valuable role in helping your party out. Fill all the equipment slots on one character and these can be combined to make the character more powerful, starting back at the beginning equipment wise but with a considerable stats boost.

And that’s where Allstar Heroes should keep you interested. Evolving your characters and watching as they steadily develop is always a satisfying thing to see. While it would have been good to be able to manipulate the characters more in battle, it’s the kind of lightweight RPG experience that lends itself well to mobile gaming. You can get a lot done in the space of a few minutes, with the only restriction being having an internet connection available to you.

Given its lengthy release in China (it was released there in February, 2014), Allstar Heroes'US release can't be far off. I’ve got a good feeling that it’s going to be a pretty fun timesink when it does come out. We’ll be sure to keep you in the know.

Earthcore: Shattered Elements Could be the Next Hearthstone

Posted by Jennifer Allen on March 20th, 2015

Due for release sometime in May, Earthcore: Shattered Elements has been in soft launch on the Canadian and Danish App Stores for a while now. A fair bit of effort is clearly being put into ensuring that everything about Earthcore: Shattered Elements is polished. It’s showing too, with this game steadily shaping up to be something quit special for CCG fans.

You’ll immediately notice that Earthcore: Shattered Elements looks quite gorgeous. Each card is attractively designed, easily rivalling the likes of Hearthstone in terms of looks. It’s an ideal way to encourage you to want to collect them all, not just for the sake of progression, but because of how they look.

Each match involves taking it in turns placing cards down, with you not able to initially place a card directly opposite your opponent’s, until the second turn. Besides elemental values at play here, with the usual fire beating water, and fire beating earth, there are also skills to use. These can make all the difference, so it’s important to note that you can only use one skill per turn. Some skills are simply a matter of inflicting extra damage to your opponent, but they can also be used to change elements and more.

There’s an extensive card crafting side of things too, which soon opens up. Earthcore: Shattered Elements promises that you can create over 500,000+ unique card combinations and I can see that being likely. There’s a plentiful supply of depth here.

That’s perhaps where the longevity for it will lie - enticing you into creating the ultimate deck to defeat others through PvP. In which case, it makes sense that Earthcore: Shattered Elements has been in soft launch for so long with balancing issues being ironed out.

As it stands, Earthcore: Shattered Elements already seems pretty appealing and potentially quite challenging, even for experienced CCG players. With further refinements planned for its already seemingly extensive campaign mode, as well as some tweaks to balancing, it can surely only get better. Earthcore: Shattered Elements is due for release sometime in May. We’ll be sure to keep you in the loop.

Hands-On With Cut the Rope Developer ZeptoLab's King of Thieves

Posted by Jennifer Allen on January 23rd, 2015

Marking quite a departure from ZeptoLab’s past successes, namely the Cut The Rope series, King of Thieves is shaping up to be quite promising. Due for release in February, we were lucky enough to have some time with a preview build to see exactly what it’s all about.

Focused on multiplayer, King of Thieves is best described as part tower defense, part platformer. Your mission is to break into dungeons and steal the opposition’s treasure chest. This requires a certain amount of finesse when it comes to your platforming skills. Controls are fairly simple here, with a series of taps and double-taps being pivotal. You automatically run, with a change of direction only possible when you bounce away from a wall. At first it seems a little awkward, but it turns out to be reasonably effective.

As you’d expect, levels steadily get trickier the further you progress, with up to three stars for the taking depending on how well you perform. There’s a PvP side to things too, with you able to tackle other players' dungeons as well as needing to protect your own. The latter is where things turn more tower defense-like, with it being possible to place turrets and spikes around your dungeon in order to ward off attack. To save your creation, you have to be able to complete it twice to prove it’s possible. Something that may end up testing your own skills as well as other players’ abilities.

So far, King of Thieves is shaping up to be an interesting mixture of puzzle style elements and platforming that’s sure to test your reflexes. My only concern is whether or not it will be able to keep everyone hooked for an extended period of time. There’s the race to be top of the leaderboard and to have the most intricate dungeon, but it’s hard to say just yet whether or not that will keep people hooked for a long time to come.

We’ll be able to see how things unfold once the game goes live worldwide. For now, it’s certainly an interesting combination of genres.

King of Thieves is set for release in February. Of course, we’ll let you know when.

Here's a First Look at Best Fiends, by Mobile Start-Up Seriously

Posted by Jessica Fisher on August 12th, 2014

Seriously has brought together some amazing talent for Best Fiends, part one of a series of games about the adorably fiendish creatures of Minutia as they become heroes and fight the insatiable Slugs of Mount Boom. The game will include music from composer Heitor Pereira ('Despicable Me' and 'Minion Movie'), level designs by Samuli Viikinen (Max Payne and Alan Wake), and character designs by Miguel Fransisco (Angry Birds).

Petri Järvilehto, co-founder and Chief Creative Officer of Seriously said, “This is a game and a world that I have wanted to build for a long time, and it’s a dream to be working with the incredible talent we have at Seriously to develop Best Fiends together. We are thrilled to be revealing a first look at Best Fiends today and can’t wait to share more ahead of our worldwide release in October.”

Seriously is also launching the Best Fiends website today, which will give us a peek at the game's story, character designs, and will eventually offer animated shorts, original music, making of videos, and stickers for messenger apps in partnership Swyft Media.

Best Fiends will be available in October as a free download with in-app purchases.

Hands-On with Skylanders Trap Team - Coming to the iPad This Fall

Posted by Rob Rich on August 12th, 2014

Skylanders has always been a bit polarizing among gamers. Some see it as a glorified (and expensive) kids’ toy. Others see it as a somewhat ingenious combination of toys and video games. It’s a bit less of a toss-up with kids, though - kids adore it. And they’re undoubtedly excited about Skylanders Trap Team.

The Skylanders series has been brought to iOS before, but Trap Team is a first. It isn’t just a port that’s been cut back to fit or a completely different sort of game that uses the license: it’s Skylanders Trap Team. You can swap between characters by switching out figures (including all the characters from previous console-only versions), capture enemies in special Trap Crystals, and otherwise do all that Skylanders-y stuff you’d expect. It’s the same game console players will be experiencing, only on a presumably smaller screen. The touch controls work quite well too, although they aren’t entirely necessary (I’ll explain in a minute).

The portal that’s included with the mobile Trap Team starter set is quite nifty. It uses bluetooth to connect to tablets wirelessly, has a simple but brilliant little notch in the side so that you can prop up your tablet (just about any tablet, no less) while you play, and comes with its own bluetooth controller that easily tucks into the bottom of the portal. Perhaps the most impressive thing about all this is that it’s incredibly easy to pair the portal and the controller with your device. If you’d rather not use the included controller, Trap Team also supports third-party mobile controllers. Or, if you find yourself with a surplus, you can also pair two different controllers and play co-op.

“It just works” has been the mantra for Vicarious Visions as they worked on the hardware for the mobile version, and it’s something they’ve pulled-off extremely well. So long as you have bluetooth enabled on your tablet all you’ll have to do is press and hold a button on the portal and/or controller and they’ll simply connect. Disconnecting them is just as easy of course, and if the controller becomes disconnected at any point during play (either on purpose or because it’s run out of batteries or something) the touch controls will pop up and you can keep playing. And if, for whatever reason, you either don’t have the portal or don’t have access to one you’re still covered. When Trap Team isn’t connected to a portal it’s still possible to play through the game using two special digital-only characters (each with their own levels, stats, and abilities).

Skylanders Trap Team will be available in the App Store as a free download on October 5 for the iPad 3 and 4, iPad Mini Retina, and iPad Air. The Starter Pack (includes the portal, bluetooth controller, unlock for the full game, and two figures) will be available on the same date for $74.99.

Avenged Sevenfold is Trying Something New With Hail to the King: Deathbat

Posted by Rob Rich on August 4th, 2014

Popular heavy metal band Avenged Sevenfold has been working on their own dungeon crawler for the last couple of years, and the results are a lot more impressive than most would probably expect. No, seriously, this is actually a thing.

Hail to the King: Deathbat is the brainchild of lead singer, M. Shadows. This is no mere town builder or casual-friendly hack-n-slasher, however; it’s meant to be a throwback to a bygone era, when games didn’t coddle their players and the only way to advance was to get better at playing.

According to M. Shadows it’s been quite the experience to take the game from an idea to an almost ready to release product. The game has gone through several iterations for optimization and tweaking, but it’s finally nearing release and it’s looking pretty neat. The visual’s have a very ‘dark fantasy’ feel, and the music is appropriately moody but also carries just a hint of retro charm.

At first glance it looks similar to other action-adventure games like Diablo, but it’s far more ‘Classic’ than that. Players won’t be leveling-up or upgrading skill trees; instead they’ll be gathering and purchasing brutal weapons and unlocking powerful magic spells. In action it feels more like playing an older Castlevania, really. You’ll be dodging traps, timing your attacks against enemies, learning boss patterns, and all that other good stuff.

Perhaps the most promising thing about Hail to the King: Deathbat is that it’s obviously been a labor of love for M. Shadows. I’ve spoken to card-carrying game developers who weren’t as enthusiastic about their work as he is about this game.

Hail to the King: Deathbat should be coming to the App Store soon for $4.99. Additional in-app purchases are available to unlock members of the band as a sort of “easy” mode, but aren’t necessary to progress. Not unless you’re really bad at video games, anyway.

2K Games Chose the Impossible - Bioshock is Coming to iOS This Summer

Posted by Rob Rich on August 4th, 2014

The original Bioshock is pretty much the greatest video game adaptation of an Ayn Rand novel in existence. It’s also a pretty darn awesome game in its own right. And it’s coming to iOS later this summer.

No joke: Bioshock on iOS is a direct port of the classic first-person adventure/shooter. The whole game - all the areas, enemies, dialogue, memorable moments, hidden cats, etc - has been made to work on the iPhone and iPad. There’s even that odd dip in the right-hand staircase in the lighthouse when you find the bathysphere.

The visuals have been scaled-back a bit, of course. Otherwise there’s no way it would clock in at just under Apple’s maximum download size of 2GB. That’s not to say it looks bad, though. There may not be dynamic shadows or fog effects, and the textures may be a lower resolution, but Rapture still the super-creepy underwater dystopia we’ve all come to know and love.

The port supports MFi and other bluetooth controllers, but also sports a set of touch controls that have been optimized for the experience. Naturally a controller is the more comfortable of the two options when it comes to a game like this, but the touch interface is about as accessible as I could’ve hoped for.

Bioshock doesn’t have a concrete release date or price just yet, but it will be available later this Summer as a premium release with no in-app purchases.

Hands-On With Melissa K and the Heart of Gold

Posted by Jennifer Allen on July 28th, 2014

Set for release later this summer is Melissa K and the Heart of Gold, a casual adventure game that's hoping to be a cut above the rest. I was lucky enough to check out a preview build of it to see just what we should expect.

The team behind Melissa K and the Heart of Gold initially worked on mystery game, LA Noire, being responsible for the real-time animation system within it - and it shows. Melissa K and the Heart of Gold is immediately more attractive than many other adventure games of this type. It's the little things that shine through, such as how a small twitch of the iPad in any direction causes the game's screen to move a little, adding a nice sense of fluidity to things.

Such pleasantries continue, ensuring that Melissa K and the Heart of Gold feels a more interactive experience than the usual titles in the genre. Objects can be manipulated by twisting them around, treating them like real 3D objects, and it works well.

Of course, the real meat for such games comes from its puzzles. Melissa K and the Heart of Gold offers plenty of hidden object scenes, but also a number of puzzles. In my short time with it I wasn't overly challenged, but I was interested. The puzzles are clearly laid out and interesting enough. They're reasonably different too, such as one requiring you to move a flower from one side of the screen to the other, without knocking the other items down. Figuring out how to unclasp a gem from a dragon statue was also a highlight, requiring more tactile controls than most.

Melissa K and the Heart of Gold should be out later this summer. It's shaping up to be something that casual adventure gaming fans like myself should be anticipating. We'll have more on it when it's released.

Looking For Group - Hearthstone's Curse of Naxxramas First Impressions

Posted by Rob Thomas on July 25th, 2014

For the first time since its release (which has thankfully been a much shorter window for iPad players than their PC counterparts), Blizzard’s wildly successful Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft CCG is sporting some brand new content: the single player “adventure” mode, Curse of Naxxramas. Based on the World of Warcraft raid dungeon of the same name, Naxxramas is divided up into various themed quarters: the Arachnid, Plague, Military, and Construct Quarters, and ending with the Frostwyrm Lair. Naxxramas’ Arachnid Quarter opened up this week and I brushed back the cobwebs to peek inside.

The three challenges of the Arachnid Quarter come in the forms of the Spider Lord Anub’Rekhan, Grand Widow Faerlina, and the giant spider Maexxna - sure to give anyone with arachnophobia a severe case of the creepy-crawlies. Each boss has their own special 2 mana “class” power, from summoning minions (Anub’Rekhan), to sending random minions back to a player’s hand (Maexxna), to firing randomly assigned magic damage based on how many cards the player is holding (Faerlina). There are also Heroic versions of the same fights, where the dungeon bosses start off with a massive 45 life to the player’s paltry 30 - while also sporting enhanced versions of their powers. Summoning a 4/4 minion for 2 mana? Yeah, that seems incredibly well-balanced. Good luck!

There are also two Class Challenges, where players are pitted against Naxxramas’ bosses with pre-built class-specific decks. Rogue and Druid are the two classes on offer this time, with the Rogue facing Faerlina while the Druid takes on Maexxna. Other Class Challenges will unlock as the weeks roll on, of course. It would be nice to see these with their own Heroic variants too, but in some cases that could get dangerously close to overkill.

All of the battles in this wing of Naxxramas feel fresh and interesting. The new graphics for the playing area feature fun little interactive elements and there's a ton of new voiceover work, including new lines for plenty of existing Hearthstone cards. In particular, the running commentary between matches from Naxxramas’ resident Lich Lord, Kel’Thuzad, is funny - almost at odds with the presumed tone of the new area. Then again, Hearthstone has never been afraid to be light and goofy. A lot of the new cards on display bank heavily on Battlecry and Deathrattle effects (SO many Deathrattles!). Also, with a number of new Beast subtype cards, Beast-themed Hunter decks have just received a huge boost.

The other wings of Curse of Naxxramas begin opening, one by one, starting next week with the Plague Quarter. Each wing costs $6.99 (with bundles available at a discounted price) or 700 in-game gold - but, sadly, no bundles), so you’d better start farming those daily Quests for gold now. However, keep in mind Quests only advance via Play or Arena mode - time spent in the depths of Naxxramas doesn’t count toward their completion. So what are you waiting for, adventurer? Get back out there and sling some cards!