PopCap's Bookworm Heroes launched on the App Store last week, and following the game's success on Facebook and the previous entries' widespread popularity, fans of word games were particularly excited to pop in and start flinging word attacks on iOS devices. However, as we discovered in our review — which posted yesterday – the game's free-to-play model proved a bit severe, and made it difficult to simply play the game without feeling obligated to spend money. Acknowledging the feedback and criticisms, along with the first week's worth of player data, PopCap reached out to let us know that going forward, players will no longer need to spend in-game currency to "rent" a hero character. One will be available free each week in a rotating fashion, with Lex currently useable without charge.
NimbleBit made its name on slower-paced simulations like Tiny Tower and Pocket Planes, which charmed with their retro-leaning pixel aesthetics and impressed with surprisingly friendly free-to-play models. Nimble Quest, the studio's perfectly-titled latest release, maintains those latter qualities but embodies a different and very active kind of spirit. The result is a mash-up of Snake and retro role-playing games that's uniquely enjoyable and ideal for one-handed amusement.
Developed by Angry Birds creator Rovio, The Croods is a village-building game inspired by DreamWorks’ latest CG animated film. With these two studios behind it, you might expect the game to be a sure thing, both as a promotional tool and as a fun iOS game for all ages. Instead, this freemium title isn’t the least bit charming, and all it seems to want is your money. Your objective is to create resources for the prehistoric Croods family by trapping, taming, and caring for wild animals, but the game downplays its characters in favor of a hollow gameplay approach.
It's surely difficult to craft the follow-up to the most spectacular iOS racing game ever produced, and doubly so when ditching a price point for a divisive free-to-play model. Electronic Arts attempts both with the anticipated Real Racing 3, and largely succeeds on both fronts, delivering a hugely impressive free racer. You've never played a free mobile racer that's half as robust or refined as Real Racing 3. Building upon the fantastic previous iteration, the game pumps even more gloss and detail into its simulation, providing a great sensation of speed and realism as you blast through real-world tracks in licensed super cars.
J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit is a fount of inspiration, and beyond upcoming Hollywood blockbusters, there's sure to be no shortage of tie-in video games. But considering the amazing reference material – a tale of adventure with dwarves and goblins – it's a shame The Hobbit: Kingdoms of Middle-earth is so unabashedly boring. It's a typical, free-to-play conquest sim with a veneer of Tolkien influence.
If you ever wanted to see how the pairing of minimal effort and a free-to-play model could decimate a play experience, NFL Pro 2013 may be the greatest example to date in any genre. It's a disaster in nearly every respect. NFL Pro 2013 has the real-life teams, but not the players, stadiums, or schedules, instead substituting laughable fake names and generic faces for the identical-looking player models. But that's not nearly the worst of it. As a wildly cynical freemium offering, you'll have to use your limited in-game currency to purchase even basic plays in the middle of a game.