148 Apps on Facebook 148 Apps on Twitter

Tag: Hands-on »

Hands-On with the Pocket City December Update

Posted by Campbell Bird on December 9th, 2019
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: PREMIUM BUT NOT PERFECT :: Read Review »

At the end of last month, Codebrew Games announced an update coming to their popular city-builder, Pocket City some time this month. In this update is the promise of expanding your city out into other regions, enacting policies, and more. The full info on the update—as well as a link to sign up to test these new features—can be found here.

I’ve spent the last week or so testing out this new content for Pocket City, and it makes for an undeniably better game. That said, I wasn’t super impressed with Pocket City when it first released, and this update doesn’t suddenly change my entire impression of the game. It’s still got some rules that feel too restrictive, but it finally allows you to build public transit that makes sense, which was one of my primary grievances with the original version of the game.

Something to note about this new update to Pocket City is that it doesn’t provide much to new players. To start enacting policies or expanding between regions, you have to level up your city to at least level 28, which takes some doing. Even when you get there, it doesn’t feel like it shifts the gameplay too much. In fact, after I got the ability to pass policies to improve my city, I routinely forgot to actually do it because my city was cruising along just fine without their benefits in play.

If you’re eyeing this update to Pocket City as a way to really deepen the experience of playing it, I think you’ll be disappointed. That said, this December update—whenever it drops—improves the base game and adds a couple more layers to Pocket City that make it more interesting than it was previously.

The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot might not be on Steam anymore, but we've tried the mobile version

Posted by Harry Slater on July 30th, 2018

The Might Quest for Epic Loot iOS preview screenshot - One of the early fights

I have a hat that makes me look quite a lot like a bear. This is pleasing to me. I also run around waving my axe about like I've gone a little bit bonkers. This is also pleasing. In fact, there's a lot of things about the soft-launched version of The Mighty Quest for Epic Loot that are going to please people, as you're going to find out in this preview.

It's a little more interactive than your usual midcore dungeon crawler, but it still manages to be wonderfully accessible. And then there are the little touches that set the game apart, and the polish and care that's clearly been lavished on the game. TLDR: this one's looking awesome.

Too fast, too furious, or just right? We go hands-on with Asphalt 9: Legends for mobile

Posted by Harry Slater on July 23rd, 2018

Asphalt 9: Legends iOS preview screenshot - Getting some air

Asphalt 9: Legends is stupid. But I don't want you to think that's a bad thing, because it's really, really not. This is the polar opposite of a hardcore racing sim, and it wears its arcade heart on its ridiculously pimped-up sleeve. Oh, and it looks amazing as well.

The game is currently out in soft launch in the Philippines, so we thought we should grab some time with it before its worldwide release to give you some idea of what to expect when the game lands in the coming month. And most of what we've seen has left us far from disappointed.

Everything You Need to Know About World of Demons

Posted by Campbell Bird on June 22nd, 2018
+ Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad

Last month, Platinum Games, the developers behind celebrated games like Nier: Automata, Bayonetta, and Vanquish announced they were going to make a mobile game called World of Demons. While the trailer didn't show a whole lot of gameplay, it seemed to promise some super stylish character action-style gameplay.

In the time since the game's been announced, World of Demons actually entered soft launch in select regions, which has allowed us to get some hands-on impressions of the game. If you want to know what the game is like, check out the video above for some unedited early gameplay, and look below some key take-aways:

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.

E3 2015 - We Go Hands-On with Madfinger's Unkilled, Which is Looking Great By the Way

Posted by Rob LeFebvre on June 17th, 2015

Czech Republic-based Madfinger Games (Dead Trigger 2, Shadowgun) is back with another zombie survival first-person shooter that will have you gunning down the undead with a new, prettier Unity5-build engine that will run on your iOS (or Android) devices. That title is Unkilled, and it’s gorgeous, intense, and super accessible - everything you’d expect from the folks that brought you bleeding-edge shooters Dead Trigger 2 and Shadowgun.

The company aims to have the free-to-play Unkilled out this summer, and I got a chance to play it a bit this week at the Electronic Entertainment Exp (E3) at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

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.

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.

Castlestorm Preview - the iOS Version of Zen Studio's Action/Defense Game May be the Best One Yet

Posted by Blake Grundman on April 10th, 2014

It is a beautiful thing when bite-sized games from the console space transition to iOS successfully. A perfect example of this phenomena at work was Hello Games’ fantastic reinvention of the Joe Danger series last year. Now it seems that Zen Studios wants to get in on the action, as they've put the finishing touches on a port of their console and PC tower-defense/action hybrid title, Castlestorm. They were kind enough to give us an early look at the game, and much to my shock I learned that not only is it great fun, but it may actually prove to be better than its console predecessor.

Everything you loved about the original game is back again, and this time it's being aided by an extremely intuitive touch interface. The previously arduous process of twiddling control sticks to try and line up a headshot is a nightmare that can be left in the past. Launching projectiles are now as simple as tapping on the screen where the shot should land. But sometimes a catapult just isn’t enough to fend off the enemy’s attacks on the castle. In these cases, you have the option of spawning defensive ground troops or jumping into the fray yourself in the form of super-powered hero characters. These death-dealing beasts specialize in hand-to-hand combat, with a side of magical abilities mixed in for good measure. Anyone who is familiar with the control scheme of a traditional 2D brawler will feel right at home showing these “Knights of the Square Table” the error of their ways.

Though some may sink hours into the actual combat component of Castlestorm, others may find it just as enjoyable to custom design their own fortress. The easy to grasp quasi-drafting tool makes tweaking and tinkering with the perfect blueprint just as fulfilling as topping the adversary on the field of battle.

While the previously released Castlestorm console outing clocked in at a reasonable $9.99 purchase price, the iOS iteration implements an entirely free-to-play monetization structure. Both coins and crystals can be purchased using real cash, earned through normal gameplay or awarded for logging in to play on a consistent basis. Coins are used to level-up the abilities and stats of either the hero characters or each type of projectile in your quiver. Crystals are used to unlock more substantial elements, such as entire campaigns.

What I've played was a very solid sneak peak of things to come. Hopefully the final product lives up to the promise of this preview. Keep an eye out in the coming weeks for our full review.

Dead Trigger 2: How Madfinger Wants to Make Their Zombie Survival FPS Better Than Ever

Posted by Carter Dotson on October 21st, 2013

Making a first-person shooter with zombies is a safe bet for a game concept, and if Dead Trigger 2 promised to just be more of the same there’s certainly the possibility that it could do just as well as the original. After all, it has zombies and the series’ creator Madfinger is known for its gorgeous-looking games. But Marek Rabas, Co-Founder of Madfinger, says that for Dead Trigger 2, visuals were not the focus. “We didn’t focus on improving graphics quality this time around, instead, our main focus was on gameplay and other aspects of the game.”

This is the first thing that is apparent when playing Dead Trigger 2, perhaps after the still-impressive visuals: it’s a much better experience.

The core concept remains the same: players trying to survive an onslaught of the zombie apocalypse. But something just feels different. Early on, it’s a much more engaging experience. Rabas says “we have changed and enhanced [the] core gameplay. We are monitoring combat intensity and allowing gameplay to adapt to it. We have added bosses in the game and players have to change their behavior in the game when they spawn.” These include enemies like the Vomitron and Kamikaze, powerful enemies that require the player’s full attention as they can kill quickly.

The story missions feature more of a narrative backbone: there’s rudimentary interaction with other characters such as an escort mission early on, albeit with a character who knows how to handle his gun. They’re little things, but they make the game feel less like a soulless collection of missions and more like a game with actual progression. There’s still the assortment of side missions with their own challenges, but the main story mode should be more motivating.

The controls show great promise as well. It’s a version of the dual virtual stick control scheme, but set up with just swiping to move and to aim. Most importantly, aiming is incredibly accurate with the touchscreen to where I had no complaints early on. It’s a Halloween miracle!

Of course, with Apple's MFi gamepad protocol on the horizon Dead Trigger 2 would be a natural fit. Madfinger loves their gamepads on Android – their games support them, and almost all of the controller manufacturers I met at GDC were demoing the original Dead Trigger on their controller – and Rabas says “Dead Trigger 2 supports MFi gamepads already. We haven’t tested it yet, because we don’t have MFi gamepads here. I hope we will get some before they will release them on the market.” However, the feature should be ready for when the dual-stick gamepads do come out. Until then, the touchscreen on iOS should do a bang-up job for most.

Dead Trigger 2 releases on October 23rd worldwide, and it’s showing great promise as a game that takes a familiar concept and iterates on it to make it possibly the most ideal version of what it could be.

Ravensword: Shadowlands – Hands-On With the Massive Open-World RPG Sequel

Posted by Carter Dotson on December 12th, 2012
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
Our rating: starstarstarhalfstarblankstar :: NOT YET :: Read Review »

Way back in 2009, Crescent Moon Games released an open-world RPG named Ravensword: The Fallen King. After years of titles developed and/or published by the studio, including various other RPGs, it’s returning to its big original hit, and it’s promising to be bigger and better than ever. Meet Ravensword: Shadowlands. Releasing on December 20th, it’s not only going to contain a massive open world, with numerous quests and things to discover, rivaling even console and PC open-world games, but it could be one of the best-looking games on the platform, as evidenced with my time on a near-final build.

The first hours of the game set the tone that this is an open world, and once the opening tutorial scene is finished, it’s open season. A town with dozens of buildings and giant detailed landscapes are immediately available. Want to go on the main quest, to discover what happened to the main character after the battle of Heronmar? Sure, do it. Want to mess around and join a guild, and help random citizens, affecting the character’s reputation? Do that, too. The game won’t say anything about it. In fact, doing a lot of side quests and exploring is highly recommended, because there’s plenty of tough foes that will come in the way, and the game prefers trial by fire. Spoiler alert: trolls and bears are a lot tougher than goblins and deer.

Weapon-based combat is simple: tap the attack button to use a weapon, tap on an enemy to target it, and hold down on attack to raise the shield. It does mean that shielding is not necessarily the most intuitive thing, but it does keep the controls from being overly-complicated. Magical items can add a third button for special attacks, and weapons and items can be set as quick use buttons at the bottom of the screen. In general, the best way to raise a stat like shielding or a weaponry type is to use it, or train it at a guild.

The game is going to be absolutely packed with content, if the sense of scale is anything to be believe: anywhere visible on land may actually be accessible in the game. Even many of the NPCs feature voice acting (usually for their first line), and a voice actor who worked on the Elder Scrolls series provides many of the NPC voices.

iPhone 5 owners are in for a treat: the game looks absolutely stunning, and only stutters occasionally in towns, for example. The build I have is “near-final” so it may or may not be sorted out, though the game is generally quite smooth. The draw distance is unparalleled as well.

Playing Ravensword: Shadowlands for several hours already, it feels like I’ve barely scratched the surface of this game, and there’s still mountains of content to discover. Between the vast landscape to uncover, and stories to unfold, this game could take a long time to truly discover all it holds.

VS. Racing 2 Hands-On Preview

Posted by Jennifer Allen on August 21st, 2012
iPhone App - Designed for iPhone, compatible with iPad
Our rating: starstarstarstarblankstar :: VROOM :: Read Review »

The sequel to popular top down arcade racer VS. Racing is set for release soon and we got our hands on a preview build to see exactly what to expect in the full release.

VS. Racing 2 looks set to build on the success of its predecessor rather than revolutionize the genre but that's nothing to complain about given how much fun the title is.

The top down racer has always lent itself to short bursts of fun and VS. Racing 2 is no different. A series of 36 different tracks ensures there's plenty to do with it only ever taking a few minutes to complete a track. Controlling the car is conducted through a virtual steering wheel on the side of the screen. There's an option to change this to tilt based controls but there's really no need. The virtual steering wheel does a fine job of offering responsive controls that can be relatively easily mastered. Although, one tip worth pointing out, stick to using your thumb to steer rather than another finger. It's geared towards thumb steering and it's much more intuitive that way.

VS. Racing 2's focus is very much on speed and fun here with impressive drifts achievable in hardly any time at all. Action gets pretty challenging in later stages but consistently enjoyable. A series of upgradeables and new cars to buy ensure the learning curve is pretty smooth and satisfying.

The real stand out feature here, however, is the Race A Friend mode. It's this that I suspect will keep players coming back for more. Supplementing the local multiplayer, players can challenge friends from any location, providing they have their email address. Players take it in turns to beat their opponent's fastest time. A ghost car demonstrates where the competition lays at all times, providing some memorable thrills and spills. It's great fun to play and I can see this being the ideal mode to dive into throughout the day. The preview build I checked out didn't include Game Center integration but that's set to be included in the full release, so I'm hopeful that this will boost multiplayer play dramatically.

VS. Racing 2 is shaping up to be a highly enjoyable top down racer. Its arcade spirit won't beguile more serious racing fans but everyone else should be excited. The asynchronous multiplayer should cement its popularity all the more.

VS. Racing 2 is set for release in the near future. We'll be sure to let you know when it hits the App Store.

Zombie Outbreak Simulator Hands-On Preview

Posted by Jennifer Allen on April 5th, 2012

Ever wonder what to do in case of a zombie outbreak? I know I have. I've got the plan all lined up, ready in case of attack. Living in a country where guns aren't easily accessible limits my options but I have backup ideas, even if they are rather inspired by Dead Rising. Even better, soon there'll be a way to simulate what would happen during such an outbreak.

Zombie Outbreak Simulator is the app I'm talking about. Previously a website, its aim is to track just what would happen if zombies emerged and started attacking humans.

As it's a simulation, interaction is quite limited. Like on the website, users can adjust certain parameters then it's just a matter of watching to see the action unfold. The preview build I checked out seems pretty complete and offers plenty of variables. Civilian numbers can be adjusted between 100 and 4000, with up to 1000 zombies available to unleash. Armed civilians can be assigned, along with police numbers. In both cases, accuracy can also play a vital role in their chance for survival so that can be adjusted. Any fan of zombie films knows that zombies react differently so infection time and speed can also be changed.

Together, this makes a pretty comprehensive spectrum of situations. The red dots representing zombies and green dots of humanity then descend upon the Google Map image, with users able to zoom in a bit further to see some of the action. Only one map was available in the preview build but I'm hopeful that the full release will enable Location Services so that players can check out how things work out in their local area. The website offers similar and it's fun to see what happens.

No one would expect just watching action unfold to be quite so entertaining, but it is. I'm not sure how long the novelty will last but for now, it's fun to see how adjusting certain numbers can change things so drastically. Even if, all too often, humanity appears to be doomed in this scenario.

Zombie Outbreak Simulator is set for release next week. We'll be sure to give it the full review treatment nearer the time.

Hands-On with ZombieSmash's Multiplayer Update

Posted by Carter Dotson on August 9th, 2011

ZombieSmash is getting its second major content expansion this Thursday. Multiplayer is coming to this zombie-flinging castle defense game, and we have early hands-on impressions of the game's new update.

The multiplayer mode, played online through Game Center, pits two players on their own house defense points, trying to keep their house from being overrun. The two players don't interact directly with each other, but both players will have to fight the same waves of zombies on their own screens.

Powerups come up that allow players to send a large zombie that must be killed by special weapons directly to their opponent. Thus, the strategy becomes in using the special items (which aren't necessarily the same for each player) carefully, so if any big zombies show up, they can be taken out. However, the regular zombies get stronger as the game goes on, so the longer a game goes, the more likely it will be that regular zombies will be the loser's downfall, not necessarily the big zombies. The game randomly selects maps from both the original house and Camp Nowhere scenario released earlier this year, as well as having levels where the zombies all come from one side, as well as the notorious two-sided zombie assault levels.

The multiplayer is played via Game Center matchmaking, and doesn't appear to suffer from any undue lag or other issues, so the play experience is smooth. Note that games can only be played between identical versions of the game, so the iPad version can't play someone on the iPhone version of the game. This is a combination of both Game Center restrictions and because the mechanics of the two versions of the game are different to accommodate the differing screen sizes. The game supports optional voice chat between players; a headset is recommended if not required. The update will be available this Thursday, and will be free for both iPhone/iPod touch and iPad versions of the game.