Is it Monday again already? Well, it certainly seems like it is so here’s another four mobile games for you to take a look at as you head out on your working week. The first game today is a mobile version of a popular Codemasters console title; F1 2011 puts you in the drivers seat of your very own Formula 1 car and tasks you with getting around the circuit in the fastest time you can manage. Order Up! is a game which takes the best parts of Cake Mania, mixes it with a little bit of Cooking Mama and serves it up nice and hot. Next we’ve got The Glowing Void 2, a difficult game to describe in only a few words so you’re just going to have to check out the full review below; beware though, it’s addictive. Last, but certainly not least, is Hero Academy, a game from Robot Entertainment (one of the studios that was born out of the ashes of Ensemble Entertainment) and takes everything you thought you knew about strategy games and turns them on their head.
That should see you through the week, check out the full reviews below and go and download some games. Then come back and tell us what you thought!
Titles are available on iPhone and iPad unless specifically stated otherwise. If you like what you read, click the small black “App Store” button to load iTunes up and purchase the title!
A few months ago we were treated to the console versions of F1 2011, the breakneck speed and precision that’s required of an F1 game was all present and correct and overall it was a very nicely packaged product. Then again, we’ve come to expect no less from the Birmingham team of Codemasters who always seem to churn out quality products, with a few notable exceptions of course. So, how does the iPad version of F1 2011 hold up considering it’s developed by a different set of people altogether in the form of Jump Games? Is it as good as we hoped or is it already a little dated; it is 2012 after all.
From the moment you start F1 2011 you’ll be able to see just how much thought went in to designing every aspect of the game. Even the main menu is designed to look like the innards of a Formula 1 racing car, so you’re almost guaranteed to be in the mood for some high speed cornering, dodging and weaving. There are three game modes for players to sink their teeth into, World Championship, Grand Prix and Time Trial, and all of them are pretty self explanatory. Most people who download this game will at least have a passing interest in Formula 1 anyway. Time Trial is the mode that people should jump into first, get a feel for how the controls work, how the cars handle as well as learning some of the tracks before you jump into one of the other, more demanding, areas of the game.
The visuals in F1 2011 are excellent, they’re not on the level of something such as Infinity Blade but considering the devices that it’s playable on it’s certainly impressive enough. I was even able to play the game on my old iPhone 3G (after a fair few “Low Memory” warnings anyway), that’s impressive enough for me, considering how many games actually play on the ageing device. If you’re looking for the best looking game on the iDevices then you should keep looking, if you’re just looking for a game that looks as good as it possibly can while still being playable on a wide range of devices, then you may have found what you’re looking for in the form of F1 2011.
The controls are easy enough to pick up, even for people that don’t play games. The primary control method is tilt and players will be required to rotate their device as if it was a steering wheel in order to move their car left and right. The accelerator is an on screen button on the right hand side of the screen with the brake on the left. On-screen buttons are normally the bane of my mobile gaming life but they don’t feel too bad here. The player doesn’t have to stretch in order to press them and they’re nice and responsive. If we’ve got to have on-screen buttons at all then I’m at least glad they work as intended.
If you’re a fan of the console version of F1 2011, or even just a fan of the sport in general, then this mobile version of the game is going to be right up your alley. Plenty of game modes, tracks and teams will keep you entertained for hours on end and the graphics and control schemes are some of the finest examples of racing games on the iDevices. If you’re starting to think that you’ll be interested then you should probably have already started downloading. Anyone with even a passing interest in Formula 1 will love this game.
If you’ve ever played one of the hugely popular Cooking Mama games then you’ve probably enjoyed preparing meals, playing the little mini-games that require a slight amount of skill and attention in order to create your culinary masterpiece in such a way as to please the game, and ensure you get the highest possible score. Have you ever wondered what would happen if Mama lost her job and had to start from scratch, beginning her famous career in a fast food joint, flipping burgers? No, I hadn’t either, but after playing SuperVillain Studios’ Order Up! that’s all I can think about.
The aim of the game in Order Up! is to collect orders from the customers coming through the doors of your selected establishment, cook whatever they want and serve it to them; preferably while it’s still hot. The cooking part of the process is the main crux of the game, creating different meals tasks the player with performing different mini games. Burgers and bacon will require flipping half way through cooking, fries will need to be cooked to perfection and then taken out of the fryer, tomatoes need to be sliced thinly, etc. These mini games are what make Order Up! a rather addictive game to play as players will often strive to create perfect meals in order to get the biggest tips possible.
The other aspect of the game that players must be aware of is the money management side of things. Not only does the player have to make the food when it’s requested but they also have to buy the ingredients (in the form of plates) that they think will be used during the course of the day. If you order 10 sets of ingredients for burgers and only one person orders it then you’ve just wasted money. Not something you want to so unless you’re attempting to run your little business into the ground. This aspect of the game is the least fun, most players will want to just get on with the cooking, but it’s still a little fun; there really isn’t a part of Order Up! that isn’t at least a little bit fun to play.
The controls are easy to use and for the most part require the player to perform the action in the way that they would expect to. For example, to flip a burger, the player has to tap the burger to slide the spatula underneath, then slide their finger up and to the side in order to perform the flip. Lowering the basket of fries requires a simple swipe down, then back up to remove them from the oil. All in all, every single one of the actions that a player will be performing on a regular basis while playing Order Up! is extremely intuitive and easy to pick up; even for inexperienced gamers.
You might think that a game that tasks you with cooking the same meals over and over again would be boring, and that you’d put it down without a second thought, never to pick it up again. That’s where you’d be wrong. Order Up! is a great game that’s surrounded by gorgeous graphics. This game would feel right at home on the Nintendo 3DS and plenty of people would pay full price for it, as it stands you’re getting it in high definition and you’re getting it for free. There really isn’t much I can say bad about this game so go out and get it, before they realise what they’ve got on their hands and start charging for it!
THE GLOWING VOID 2:
At first glance it seems that The Glowing Void 2 is one of those titles that isn’t very representative of the game that you’re about to play, as if it’s just a cool name that the developers thought up when they were naming the project they were working on. Two seconds into the game however, and you’ll see exactly why the game has this title and that everything you do within it literally involves glowing voids. Touché Daily App Dream, touché.
The gameplay in The Glowing Void 2 challenges the player to place voids within as much of the screen as possible, moving on the the next stage as soon as you manage to take control of 70% of the viewing area. To make things much harder there are red balls bouncing around the screen which, if they touch your void before you’ve finished creating it, will destroy the void and take a life away from you. Lose all three lives and it’s ‘Game Over’. The further you get into the game, the more of the red bouncing balls appear, one on stage one, two on stage two, etc. This starts to make things very hard, very quickly.
There are two game modes on offer to the player when they first download the game, Classic and Survival. The first mode (Classic) is the one I described where as the stages advance, the player has to contend with more and more red balls. The second available mode (Survival) is a different game altogether, although the basic mechanics are the same. In this mode players have to just gain as many points as they can by creating voids. The voids disappear as soon as they’re created this time (the aim of the game is to get a high score, not take up screen space) and there are no stages, more and more red balls just appear and your only goal is to survive as long as possible, creating as many voids as you can before you’re caught out. This mode is entertaining, and a nice change from the main game, but it isn’t as fun and without the stages to break up the gameplay it gets quite repetitive.
The controls in The Glowing Void 2 are as simple as can be, all the player has to do is touch the screen. The longer their finger is held down, the larger the void they create. Players can also drag their finger around the screen while they’re creating the void and it will follow them. This is a necessary tactic especially in later stages, in order to avoid the red bouncing balls. The barrier for entry for casual gamers will be the difficulty of the game itself, nothing in the control scheme will pose a problem for people.
The Glowing Void 2 is a good way to waste away a couple of hours, the gameplay gets quite repetitive but a lot of players will keep coming back due to the challenging aspect of the game. The graphical quality of the title isn’t high, and there’s even the annoying fact that the menu is in portrait view and the game is in landscape view, causing the player to keep rotating their device, certainly not the end of the world but a strange design choice nonetheless. If you’re in need of a challenging yet fundamentally good downloadable game then you should give The Glowing Void 2 a go, it’s nothing particularly special but there are many games out there which are much, much worse.
Hero Academy. The name itself conjures up images of Hogwarts-esque school built specifically for the likes of Superman and Spider-man and while the game isn’t exactly that, the feel of the experience isn’t any less epic. Hero Academy is developed by Robot Entertainment, the same guys the brought us the addictive console title Orcs Must Die! (which is playable from GodisaGeek’s Play Now page), and takes the basic concepts of chess, along with some other strategic games, turns them on their head, adds swords and magic and presents it to us as Hero Academy. If you’re not already downloading at this point then you’re probably already dead inside.
The gameplay is similar to chess in the sense that you need to make extremely strategic moves in order to win a game of Hero Academy. The bottom bar is where all your pieces are, all your units that can be placed on the battlefield as well as all the buffs that can be placed on them once they’re in the thick of it and the main objective of the game is to destroy the enemies crystal that’s sitting pretty at the other side of the board. Each unit can only move a certain amount of squares as well as only being able to attack opposing units from a specific distance too. This means that players need to try and strategise where they’re going to move their pieces to in order to not only attack their enemy but also try and make sure that they don’t get killed themselves; there’s no point advancing up the board only to get slaughtered in a single move.
The combat in Hero Academy is turn based so it doesn’t have to be a game that you sit in front of for hours, you can make a move and then go do something else until the notification appears telling you that your opponent has made a move. The fact that you don’t have to be sat at the game the whole time will undoubtedly make it a lot more interesting to the casual audience. Every time it’s your turn you get five moves to make before you have to relinquish control back to the opposing player. These moves may consist of moving a unit, placing a unit, buffing them up with the multitude of potions, scrolls and attack bonuses that appear on the bottom bar, or simply attacking. Either way, while having five moves to make per turn may sound like a lot, once you’re playing the game, you’ll soon find yourself wishing you had just one or two more. This again adds to the strategic element of Hero Academy, forcing the player to think hard about their moves before they’re made.
Hero Academy is a game that everyone should be downloading, it’s developed by an excellent developer in the form of Robot Entertainment, it looks amazing and plays even better. A lot of people will lose many matches before they start to see the tactics they can employ in order to beat their opponent but once you settle into those tactics the sheer amount of enjoyment you can have playing this game comes into full view. If you’re a fan of chess, or any other strategy game, then you’d be missing out by not giving Hero Academy a try. I can almost guarantee though, if you have even the smallest notion that you might enjoy this game, you’ll end up loving it.