Developer: Chillingo Ltd
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★½☆☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆

iPhone Integration Rating: ★★★½☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★☆☆
Re-use / Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Looking for something different? I introduce Graviton, a game to which I can’t place in a genre. Chillingo calls it a “skill & puzzle-based game”, I’ll stick with that. The iPhone’s accelerometer has been the cause for a lot of unique games that are hard categorize, Graviton is one of them. The basics: you control a ship where, with your accelerometer, you pick up “energy spheres” and try to progress to the end of the level. Simple enough. What makes the game interesting are the different obstacles: gravitational disturbances, lava, walls (oh believe me, I ran into enough of these for them to be considered obstacles), etc.

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Despite a few issues I had with the game, I enjoyed it. My main issue with the game dealt with the controls. I also experienced two other issues. One being that the game doesn’t seem to let you play with the phone parallel or perpendicular to the ground, it must be somewhat angled. And the other is that the levels are a little lengthy. Let’s start with the controls.

Controls
The controls are easy to get used to and self-explanatory, common for an accelerometer controlled game. Tilt the iPhone up, down, left, or right and the ship moves that way. The only other two controls are tapping the ship to make the energy sphere drop and pressing the screen in the direction your ship is going to use the “boost” (the lightning symbol is the boost gauge). My problem with the accelerometer controls are that they simply don’t work well… I had the hardest time steering the ship. In the beginning, I thought that my accelerometer was broken, so I went to a few other games that have accelerometer controls and they worked flawlessly. The game seemed to make me overcompensate when the ship wasn’t going where I wanted it to and sometimes it was even too touchy – making it hard for my ship to stay stationary when I wanted it to. Let’s hope the controls are touched up with an update.

Graphics and Sound
I thought the graphics for this game were absolutely beautiful. It was the background to the game that makes it look so great. The destroyed city with the orange and black sky gives the game graphics just what it needs to keep the user interested in the aesthetics of the game. And the intro screen is creative – it shows your ship in a zoomed in view navigating through a tunnel while you have your main menu overlapping it.
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The game music wasn’t much to comment on. But the sound effects are what forced me to give it a low sound score. When running into or skidding against anything in the game it blasts you with an annoying screeching sound that can really be done away with. I get it, I ran into the wall.

The Game
Each level was very different from the previous one. New obstacles are added as you go along and obstacles from the previous level aren’t overused, so you don’t get the sense that you’re playing a similar level. My problem with the levels were that they were too long. When you’re playing a game with levels, you want to be able to whip out your phone and play a quick level while you’re waiting around.

Problems, Wishes, and Misses
Problems. As I mentioned earlier, there are three problems worth mentioning: long levels, hard to use controls, and how you’re allowed to hold the phone. I addressed the first two above. The problem with how you hold the phone is that the game gives you a screen where you tell it where you’re going to play the game (an accelerometer reading of how you’re currently holding it). It shows a vertical gauge with a ball in it that shows a green area and red areas above and below it.

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The game will not let you play in the red areas, close to perpendicular and parallel to the ground. Therefore, you cannot play the game hunched over the phone in a chair or straight out in front of you (which is how I play while laying in bed). I don’t see why it does this, they should simply let the game be played in any position.

Wishes. I can deal with the sound effect crashing and screeching noise as well as the positioning problem, but the controls really need to be touched up. The game would be a lot more enjoyable if it wasn’t so hard to control. Also, a choice of zoom would be nice. Let me zoom out or in while playing, maybe in the pause menu.

Misses. The music was a bit of a miss. Maybe give an in-game iPod control now that 3.0 allows it.

This game might be worth it in an update or two. Or maybe if they reduce the price to $0.99 from $1.99. For now, I would suggest waiting for the next update, hopefully containing some control fixes.


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