Despite its flashy neon lights and comic book-style interstitials, Flashout 2 is a pretty straightforward sci-fi-tinged racer: you'll zoom around a futuristic track, earn cash, upgrade your podracer, and repeat. Here’s the catch: each hovercraft comes armed with a machine gun, rockets, and mines, and a quick trigger finger is often the difference between first and last. While decently fun, it ultimately proves insubstantial and lightweight, with control quirks and a lacking balance between racing and combat.
Supercell's Boom Beach sticks close to the basic formula established by mega-hit predecessors Clash of Clans and Hay Day, but it brings an enticing new combat system that grants you greater control over your own fate. It's war of oceanic proportions, as you work to liberate the natives of one island after another from the evil Blackguard (as well as from rival players). Your goals boil down to two needs: keeping your headquarters protected from invaders—with help from an assortment of mines, defensive buildings, and strategic placement—and building up an army strong enough to take down the headquarters of any island not under your control.
Like the complicated father-son relationship between Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader, the marriage between the Star Wars franchise and card battling games has been a tumultuous one at best. Last year's Star Wars Force Collection was a hands-off snooze affair bogged down by heavy micromanagement. The latest attempt at shoehorning a galaxy far, far away into a collectible card game format, however, is a vast improvement over what we’ve seen before. Star Wars: Assault Team packs all the polish, accessibility, and strategy that were sorely missing in Force Collection, even if it's not an entirely fresh spin on collectible card combat.
Marvel Comics’ latest film adaptation, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, has been receiving rave reviews in the run up to its release this Friday. Gameloft’s universal iOS beat-‘em-up of the same name has a fair bit going for it, as well, with solid presentation and quite a bit of content, but ultimately doesn’t captivate over the long haul. Spreading a small number of game mechanics and levels as thin as possible muddles what could have been a pretty strong action affair.
Scrabble and poker may seem like an unlikely pair, but the two have joined forces in Words & Cards, a new free-to-play puzzler from Ayopa Games. The result is unique to be sure—a colorful blend of vocabulary and card-playing that provides a few engaging sessions of casual, online head-to-head play. Over time, unfortunately, it becomes evident that Words & Cards lacks any real sense of depth or replayability. Like a beta still in its testing phase, this game sadly feels incomplete.
As a clear effort to emulate big-budget console shooters like Panzer Dragoon or Star Fox, Star Horizon is perhaps most notable for how true it stays to its vision. It's a game that takes very little influence from the usual iOS design trends, thankfully eschewing common devices like virtual sticks, tilt steering, or in-app purchases. As a result, it’s a mostly successful homage that shines particularly in its presentation, with the game serving as a showpiece for the iOS platform.
Replace trainers with keepers and Poké Balls for monster traps and you’ve got Monster Legacy, a game that offers a glimpse of what a free-to-play Pokémon could play like if Nintendo ever took its popular franchise mobile. This means fighting alongside a team of monsters, training them to evolve, and even completing missions for rare items. But before you dismiss this game for another creature-catching clone, Monster Legacy mixes in various clever elements and modes that make it more than just another Pokémon wannabe.
Cartoon Network’s mobile division—particularly that behind its edgier Adult Swim-branded fare—has historically been a pretty good fit for goofy, whimsical little arcade-style titles that focus on simple game design while still managing to be fun. Globlins doesn’t really fit that criteria, despite looking decent enough at a glance, with colorful storybook art and a cute, kid-friendly premise involving blotting out tiny microscopic organisms. Most of the puzzles require little to no skill or thought, while the wildly difficult boss battles feel concocted to nudge you towards spending money on power-ups.
You can always rely on Crytek to push graphical boundaries, and the Crysis developer’s latest iOS outing is no exception, with detailed and realistic environments that sparkle in all the right places. But beneath the glitz and the glam—and beyond a strong core, top-down arena shooter design—The Collectables suffers from a toxic progression system, which forces you to spend big or grind repeatedly through already-completed missions.
First Strike grants a God's-eye view of the end of all things, and inadvertently shows us the beauty in chaos. Like trout leaping from water, nuclear bombs plop down to Earth, slaughtering millions. Mushroom clouds bud like fungi on lumber, and the stars, unjudging, watch Ragnarok in the inky blackness beyond. Were it not for radial menus popping up and shifting national boundaries, a passing observer might mistake it for a new feature in Google Earth.