Minecraft and other sandbox games of its kind have taking the larger world of gaming by storm, but mobile technology has only just caught up in recent years, and only now are we seeing large scale sandbox games make their way to iOS and Android.
With that said, there are still bunches of quality sandbox games on iOS that aren't Minecraft: Pocket Edition. Here are four of our favorites.
Gameloft has frequently done a good job of re-envisioning distinctly familiar console gaming hits, whether it be Uncharted in the form of Shadow Guardian or World of Warcraft-like Order & Chaos Online. Perhaps the most consistent of these homages has been the Gangstar series with Gangstar West Coast Hustle and more recently Gangstar: Miami Vindication heavily borrowing from the Grand Theft Auto series and being just as enjoyable. So it makes sense to see another Gangstar title coming soon.
Gangstar Rio: City of Saints promises the same addictive Grand Theft Auto style gameplay but with all new weapons, vehicles, storyline and a whole new place to explore. Not much else has been announced but we do have a Gameplay trailer to gaze over. It's looking pretty good and certainly graphically impressive for iOS devices.
Take a look below. We'll be sure to keep track of Gangstar Rio: City of Saints' development.
Apple, you might want to improve your approval process
It seems that news comes out, on a weekly basis, that demonstrates how bad Apple's approval system is, and this week was no different, with two notable stories. First, the Google Voice app. In the FCC letters, Apple claims AT&T has nothing to do with this, but it simply reeks of their interference, though on the technical side, it was rejected because it duplicates an already existing native feature - the phone. Why then, are there so many "Text Free" apps. Apple simply has no consistency. Apple, however, revealed some interesting nuggets of information: about 8500 apps are submitted each week, Apple employs 40 full-time app reviewers, and each app is reviewed by two separate people. Some rough number crunching by Jeff, our head honcho, reveals that the average time a single person spends reviewing an app is 5.6 minutes. This is simply atrocious, and frankly explains a lot. More and more, it is showing that Apple struck gold with the App Store, but was in no way expecting it and has no idea what to do. The next news story is the saga of Spotify, an awesome internet radio app. Apple has done absolutely nothing, and the app is still in limbo after several weeks in review. Obviously, Apple believes Spotify is a great app, so great in fact, that it will hurt iTunes store music downloads. Much like in the case of A.D.D., the answer here is simply more transparency. Come on, Apple, at least let the developers know what is happening so that they might speed the process. And of course, make up your mind! Have the cajones to either approve it or reject rather than leaving it rotting in app purgatory.
Race for the best Kart Racer [caption id="attachment_16068" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Konami\'s Krazy Kart Racing"]
Gameloft seems to be going head to head with other developers lately, and kart racing is the latest iteration of this. Both Konami (Krazy Kart Racing) and Gameloft (Shrek Kart) have Mario Kart style racers due out soon on the App Store. Simply based on screenshots and video alone, I'd say the edge goes to Gameloft. The graphics in Shrek Kart are much nicer (Krazy Kart graphics are somewhat blocky and the karts look like they're hovering due to the lack of a shadow), and the track design looks better for Shrek Kart. From the video, Shrek Kart looks to be a very competent Mario Kart-like game. I typically dislike the gimmicky use of movie characters and the like in games, but Shrek Kart looks like a can't miss.
Free "Knights Onrush" promotional game
In a nice promotional move, the folks over at Moregames have released a free supplement game to their hit "Knights Onrush." Though we thoroughly enjoyed Knights Onrush in our review, the promotional game is nothing like it. It uses the same characters, but rather than a Castle Defense game, it is a side scrolling hack-'n-slash with some nice RPG elements and best of all, a jump button. It's a typical highscore affair, and while the game is glitchy, it is rather enjoyable. The game will likely climb the free app charts and gain some publicity for the main game, and Moregames even hints at the fact that they might give the game a premium paid version. I applaud this great marketing move, which is good for both the developer and cash-strapped iPhone gamers!
This week's sign of the apocalypse
The Mobile Navigator app is steadily hanging in the top 100 paid apps, at a whopping price tag of $69.99. Personally, I'm waiting for a $.99 sale.
Apps of the Week
Gangster: West Coast Hustle
Gameloft has truly achieved a milestone for the iPhone with their immensely impressive GTA-style game. This game features a fully explorable 3D sandbox world with plenty of ways to get your hands dirty. The story missions are entertaining, graphics are rich, and best of all, the controls are fantastic. If Gameloft sticks to a mantra of light on innovation, heavy on quality, while producing games like this at such a bargain price, you won't hear any complaining from me.
If you're like me, then you love showing off cool, unique things that only an iPhone can do. The latest and greatest of these apps is Sonar Ruler. The concept of Sonar Ruler is simply so cool I didn't believe it at first: by using sonar technology, you can simply point your iPhone at a (large) object and just like that, find out how far away it is. Sounds futuristic, right? Best of all, if you use the app correctly, its measurements are actually fairly precise, within an inch usually. No, it's not going to replace a ruler or measuring tape, but it's pretty freaking awesome.
That's it for this week's MMAHQ. I hope everyone is enjoying the column, and have a great week!