App Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
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Just who is Mr. X? An art thief? A murderer? Some guy with a ridiculous amount of unpaid parking tickets? Well whoever he is, he’s got a bunch of Scotland Yard detectives chasing him all over London. Hence the name Scotland Yard. At least, that’s why I assume it carries the name.
Unlike other mystery board games Scotland Yard isn’t about figuring out “whodunnit,” “whytheydunnit” or “howtheydunnit.” It’s simply about trying to catch the guilty party. Or to avoid getting arrested if someone’s playing as Mr. X. Players move point-to-point across the sprawling city map as they attempt to apprehend or escape, with tickets required for each relocation. Once a player runs out of tickets they’re out of the game, but they can hang around and watch if they like. Mr. X, on the other hand, is much more mobile. The downside is that everyone can see what method he uses to get around and every few turns players will see where he is/was on the map, so he has to keep moving. It can make for some rather compelling mind games as the detectives try to hunt down the fugitive and the fugitive tries to misdirect his pursuers.
The simplicity of the original board game, and by extension the iOS adaptation, keeps it accessible to pretty much anyone who’s interested. It doesn’t take long at all to learn, and once that’s done it boils down to manipulation and prediction of other players’ movements. It’s all so simple, but there’s just something incredibly interesting about the whole affair. I’m something of a sucker for games that give me an opportunity to get into another person’s head (to a reasonable degree), though.
Aside from an unexpectedly unpolished tutorial, complete with a few vague directions and virtual buttons that don’t always work right away, I have no issue with Scotland Yard’s gameplay. The AI, on the other hand, is a huge pain. Sure it’s the computer, and sure this is a game meant to be played by actual people (and it can via Game Center, Wi-Fi, etc), but it typically seems to be borderline psychic. Faking out people with a well-planned use of a hidden movement ticket or a risky doubling-back is awesome. Getting snagged because the AI seems incapable of being tricked is not.
Assuming someone isn’t looking for a single-player only game, there’s plenty of entertainment to be had with Scotland Yard. It’s easy to learn and lots of fun. Just know that it truly shines when played with or against other people.