So it’s time for some games. We took an extended Holiday break there, but we are back with a huge list of games for you to try out. If you’re into British Men who travel in phone boxes, we have a game for you. We take a look at the results of Camoflaj’s kickstarted iOS game. We have Rovio’s attempt to keep the Angry Birds franchise going. Finally we have the sequel to a unique iOS puzzler.
The Bureau: X-Com Declassified – Mac
The return of XCom, with the release of The Enemy Within last year, was met with a lot of applause. Then there is The Bureau: X-Com Declassified which was already jeered on announcement as it ditched strategy in favor of a third person shooter. However, the game also ditches the five minutes into the future aesthetic and opts for a retro sci-fi vibe from the 60’s. This makes the whole thing a wash. The third person controls make the game blend in with a half a dozen games that came out in the time it took to write this paragraph. The setting and storyline that brings Cold War paranoia and retro futurism together in a way that’s immediately immersive.
You play a washed up CIA agent dragged into an alien invasion at its source, and it happens to turn out that you’re a one man army. You join up with what’s left of the US government in a top secret bunker and begin your counter attack. The gameplay does attempt to include strategic elements, but it’s got a Rainbow Six feel: you can use tactics, but the game doesn’t mind if you’d rather just run in and shoot everything. Had they stuck with the original formula and used this setting this would have been a nearly perfect game. Instead, this is a strange anomaly.
What’s Good: Great settings and neat twist on the series’ formula.
What Sucks: Third person shooter controls and simplistic strategy take the teeth out of the game.
Buy it?: If you’re a huge X-Com fan, or you’re looking for a neat story, grab The Bureau – X-Com Declassified for $34.99 on the Mac App Store.
Doctor Who: Legacy – iOS (Universal)
It’s a long wait between the Doctor Who Christmas Special and the premier of the new season. This year features a new Doctor, so the wait is even longer. You can spend a little more time with Matt Smith’s eleventh Doctor or any of the old Doctors, as well as an array of classic characters. Sadly you won’t be manning the Tardis and wielding the Sonic Screwdriver, instead you’ll be matching gems that correspond to character attacks. All the Whovian action takes place in text and still pictures, though the game has some tinges of an RPG.
The gem swapping is reminiscent of the game Puzzles and Dragons each color of gem corresponds to one of your characters. You can multiply these attacks by linking together combos, doing more damage to your enemies. You manage the characters you unlock, as well as new Doctors, in groups of teams. There are character management elements between levels, as well as a host of extra levels beyond the main game. All in all there’s a lot here, but if you really want to breeze through there are some IAP to allow you really max out your characters.
What’s Good: Fun puzzle game, good use of the license.
What Sucks: There might be a few too many characters here. Can’t listen to music/podcasts and play game at the same time.
Buy it?: If you’re a fan of Doctor Who: Legacy, or are looking for another Puzzle RPG game after Puzzles and Dragons or Avengers, grab Doctor Who for free on the App Store.
Rèpublique – iOS (Universal)
Rèpublique is an attempt to bring console level gaming to the iPad. Developer Camoflaj arrived at this though around the same time as a slew of other developers, but this game has been highly anticipated following a Kickstarter. How did they do? The answer is, pretty good. The characters are a bit thin, and the story’s labored. On the other hand, the gameplay and storytelling are unique. Playing through a story where the phone/tablet itself is a prop is genius. The first episode spends a lot of time using that metaphor to push you into the game world.
The game starts with a frantic phone call from Hope, who’s been found out for reading banned material. With a little help from a guard, she’s able to escape, but relies on your hacking skills and commands to get her out of the prison. You can switch through cameras, unlock boxes to help Hope get some supplies to escape. The weaponry isn’t lethal, you can order Hope to use pepper spray on the guards, but that only temporarily distracts them. You’ll need to get her into hiding quickly. It’s great to see a stealth game that forces you to play stealth.
What’s Good: Excellent design and gameplay.
What Sucks: Story’s a bit cliche and characters are two-dimensional.
Buy it?: This isn’t just the best stealth game on iOS, this might be the best stealth game in the last few years. Fans of Metal Gear and Splinter Cell as well as people interested in unique game design should grab Rèpublique for $4.99 on the App Store.
Angry Birds Go – iOS (Universal)
Rovio seems convinced that they can be the mobile version of Nintendo, so why not make a cart racing game. The pigs and the birds are back, this time instead of suicide bombing the pigs, the birds have decided they must race. The game let’s you choose between motion or touch controls to steer, and beyond the power-ups there isn’t much to do in this game but steer. The power-ups are unique to each bird, you unlock a new one on each track. Each bird you have only has five races every few hours, which leads to the real crux of this game.
Angry Bird’s Go is a free to play game with some pretty serious microtransactions. There’s a cart in here that sells for $49.99, and that’s still early in the game. There’s the usual unlimited energy type IAPs, but considering there’s add supported power-ups in addition to the IAP, it all feels a bit cheap. This is still a fun game, but you will have to spend far too much time navigating around the free-to-play pitfalls.
What’s Good: Variety of characters and carts, multiple gameplay modes, lots of stages.
What Sucks: Free to play pitfalls mar the game, feels like you can just buy your way through the game. Cart racing without the multiplayer?
Buy it?: Fans of the series will find a unique twist on the characters, and it is a free game. Just watch for the IAP, and grab it from the App Store.
The Room Two – iPad
The Room was an heir to Myst. An adventure puzzle hybrid that really showed off the power of the platform, in this case the touch controls of iOS. The Room allowed for a lot of tactile approaches to puzzle solving. The game was hugely popular, so of course there was going to be a sequel. Rather than Myst’s approach of becoming a bloated array of psuedo-fantasy nonsense, The Room pulls the flashlight away from its face and creates something with the tone of an illustrated adventure novel. It work’s perfect as the setting draws out from escape to exploration.
That said, if you were looking for something remarkably new or different in the sequel, I am afraid that you are going to be disappointed. That said, these games execute so well that it seems foolish to expect them to be anything other than a fascinating series of puzzles. The clue system is a bit more forgiving this time around, putting itself out there when you start randomly tapping or exploring the wrong area. This may make the sequel a tad bit more approachable.
What’s Good: Excellent riff on the original concept with a lot more content.
What Sucks: Nothing new here, if you didn’t like the first one: pass.
Buy it?: If you liked the first game, or just really like puzzle focused adventure games, grab The Room 2 for $4.99