miércoles, 30 de diciembre de 2009

The Simpsons Arcade Review

Price: $4.99

Publisher EA Mobile

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The Simpsons Arcade is a 2d platformer.  It looks a lot like Double Dragon or Contra on the NES with updated Super Nintendo graphics.  Neither is necessarily a bad thing.  All of the usual cast members are here and despite a few nagging issues the game can be a fun time waster, albeit a bit short.  You play as Homer.  The storyline is so dumb that the developers themselves mention that you have probably already skipped reading it.  This game really isn't about the story; instead it's about playing an old fashioned 2D fighting game as modern America's favorite cartoon character.

The controls of The Simpsons Arcade are like you would expect on any old NES game.  You have the virtual joy pad on the left and two virtual buttons on the right.  I never really had any problem with them at all.  The graphics are also what you would expect to see from a game of this type.  I remember a Simpsons NES game that came out in the early 1990's that looks surprisingly similar.  There are six different levels in the game, each with its own feel, bosses and henchman.  Each level has 2 or 3 different bosses even a modest Simpsons fan will easily recognize from The Simpsons television show.  Overall the graphics do their job but they aren't anything special.

The sound of the game is pretty decent.  Since you play with Homer, you'll get to hear some familiar "mmm" sounds throughout.  However, none of the bosses that you fight actually say anything vocally. Instead they ‘speak’ through captions and only the Simpson family members ever utter a word.  It certainly would have been nice to hear what they said instead of reading it.  After all, few things are more recognizable than the voices of our favorite Simpson’s characters.  The music is pretty decent throughout the game and avoids the pitfall of being unbearably overused.  Also, EA Mobile again gives you the possibility of using your own music catalog as well during the game.  As with NFS Shift, this was a nice addition.

I did have several problems arise during my play through.  One persistent issue was that even though the levels last 15 minutes or so, there are no save points.  So if you are hoping to stop the game to make a call or get an email, you'll be starting the level over after you load the game back up.  Another issue I had come up once during my play through is that 10 minutes into a level, one of the henchman became invincible.  The game would not allow me to move on until he was dead but since he was impossible to kill, a restart of the level was the only answer.  After playing a 10 minute level or so it was disappointing to have to restart the level from the beginning.  I do want to mention that I never had that issue come up again in my play through.

The basic game play is fairly repetitive.  Kill a bunch of henchman and move along.  There are some weapons to use including a boomerang, baseball bat, etc and Homer can do 4 or 5 different fighting moves but there aren't any big surprises.  I played the game without sound for a while and actually became very bored with the game play.  I recommend playing with sound on since even though the fighting is simple, the sound adds quite a bit to the environment in the game.  One nice thing is that most boss characters have different weaknesses and strengths and figuring them out can take little trial and error.  The game's difficulty is pretty well balanced throughout.  Expect to die some but not too much.

Other than the single player missions, of which there are six, there is absolutely nothing else to do in the game.  There are no achievements, nothing to unlock.  You can replay the game and try for more points but overall there is very little replay value.  All six levels may take you 90 minutes or so in total.  It seems like slim pickings for premium priced game. That being said, if you are a Simpsons enthusiast, you just might feel the $4.99 price tag is warranted.  For everyone else out there, you might want to wait until the game goes on sale for 2 to 3 dollars which is a more reasonable price.

Overall Value for it's $4.99 price point

Overall Value:

martes, 29 de diciembre de 2009

Three or four games

I'm working on three or four reviews including Dead Strike and Shaun White Snowboarding. Dead Strike feels like I played it before when it was called Resident Evil 4. We'll get a new review up tonight/early tomorrow.

lunes, 28 de diciembre de 2009

iPhone and iPod Touch - Games of the Year (2009)

Though this site hasn't been around too long, this reviewer has been playing iPhone games for quite a while.  In fact, I have probably logged hundreds of hours in iPhone gameplay this year (much to my wife's chagrin).  All of that gameplay allowed me to get a good feel for what is out there and to come up with a list of the iPhone Gamer Blog's top 5 games of the year.

Number 5:  Boxed In 2  - (Dennis Mengelt, $1.99)

Boxed In 2 offers puzzle loving gamers hours and hours of fun.  The full review can be found here but a shorter review is as follows: If you are a gamer with an appetite for intelligent gameplay, this is a must buy.

Number 4: Baseball Superstars 2010 -  (Gamevil, $4.99)

I played this game more than any other game this year.  It's story mode allows you to create a player and follow him through 7 years of his career while accumulating stats, trying to make more money and upgradiing his abilities much like an RPG.  The only down side of this game, playing 7 years with 30+ games per year just doesn't seem long enough.  If you are a sports fan of any type, this is an absolute must buy.  The game also includes a ton of additional modes as well and is just an absolute treat for the price.

Number 3: Need for Speed Shift  (EA Mobile, $9.99)

NFS Shift beats out all other racing games with its great graphics, fun setting and hours of gameplay.  See the full review for additional information.

Number 2: Rope N' Fly 2 - (Robert Szeleney, $1.99)

The first Rope N' Fly literally gave me hours of enjoyment.  In that version you literally were only able to play one mode.  The idea: You have 30 seconds to swing skyscraper to skyscraper with a rope (much like Spiderman) and get as far as you could.  If it sounds simple, it is, but it is also a wonderful time waster to try and beat your best time.  In Rope N' Fly 2, many more modes have been added, the graphics have been upgraded, music has been included and there is an easily accessible online screen that compares your scores to others around the world.  The end result, a game that is even more addictive.  No matter who you are.  Buy this game right now.

Game of the Year 2009:  Ragdoll Blaster (Backflip Studios, $1.99)

You like puzzles?  You like ragdoll physics?  Do you like shooting people out of a cannon?  I thought so!  This game is single handedly the game that I have shown to my friends to make them buy an iPhone.  A simple idea that uses physics based puzzles that you solve by shooting people out of cannons.  The music is perfect, the graphics are clean and the game is addictive!  My only complaint is the game ends much too soon.  For $1.99 you can go download the best game of the year.


What can we make of this list?  Small studios rule the day!  While one huge publisher is included here, the indie game makers are are showing that creativity and new ideas can still beat huge advertising budgets.  2010 looks to be yet another great year for iPhone and iPod game development and iPhone Gamer Blog will be right here calling it as we see it all year long.

sábado, 26 de diciembre de 2009

Need for Speed Shift Review

Price: $9.99
Publisher: EA Mobile

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It wasn't long ago I heard that NFS: Shift would be coming to the iPhone.  Ever since, I have looked forward to seeing the type of adaptation it would get from EA Mobile.  The console game is universally adored and I went into this review hoping for the same, almost expecting to be disappointed.  Especially since EA Mobile's track record has been mediocre at best.  So what did I find?

The game has quite a bit of content.  20 cars, 18 tracks set in 4 different locations.  All of the locations look different and all of the cars look great.  A definite plus.  I started out using a Mazda and stepped up to a Porsche and could definitely tell a difference in engine sound, handling, etc.  It's nice to see that kind of attention to detail on the iPhone.

The sound is nice because not only do the cars sound great but you can also use your own iPhone playlist while playing the game.  It certainly was nice when I realized I didn’t have to listen to the crappy default rap/ alternative music EA included in the game.  Props to ea mobile for including this ability that sorely needed across the iPhone gaming landscape.

The controls are pretty decent, although in one game mode in particular they can become a problem.  In drift mode you are trying to rack up as many points as possible, not from racing competitors but from sliding around the track as much as possible.  It makes for fun gaming on a console but on the iPhone, it's extremely difficult to get the tilt based controls at the right angle to drift for any length of time.  Fortunately after failing the first 10 times, I realize there was an option to increase the tilt effectiveness.  Once increased a few notches, drifting was much easier.  Nevertheless, it was frustrating as I wasn’t able to advance to the next level and I could see some people giving up and missing the rest of the game.

The actual design of the game makes racing a lot of fun.  Even when you lose a race, you can still earn stars and points for doing other tasks.  For example, you can still earn a star by beating the single lap record (stars help you advance to the next track).  The ai competition is so much better than Asphalt 5's (read the review here).  Instead of ai that immediately catches up when they are down (in corny fashion), NFS: Shift's opponents take advantage of you taking bad angles around the track or running off the edge of the pavement.  In my book, any game that can still give you a competitive race without using hokey ai practices deserves a second look.

Even with all of the good, there is some bad.  Other than the drift mode issue, I also have to question why in the world the game doesn't have an in-game pause button.  Unless I am missing it (please let me know), I can’t find a way to pause the game during a race.  It's a pretty big oversight in my opinion because there are so many times while using an iPhone game you need to pause for a moment or two.  Ironically, the game has a pause menu during the game that comes up when your battery is low.  Someone, please tell me I am just an idiot and where I can find it during the race!  (This issue should be edited out but I will keep it in for people that may also have trouble finding how to pause the game.  In the comments below someone mentioned that you can use two fingers on the screen during the race to pause it.  Very helpful!)

All in all, you are going to definitely get your money's worth with NFS: Shift.  In fact, I would say it is one of the best iPhone games out there.  Despite a couple nagging problems, the amount of time and fun you can have with this game makes it seem incomprehensible there are so many 50 dollar console games that give you 10 hours or less of play.  BTW, I didn't mention multiplayer which is also included as with both Bluetooth and local Wi Fi modes.  Both worked well when I tried them but even if multiplayer wasn't included at all, this game would be a must buy.

Overall Value for it's normal $9.99 price point

Overall Value:

viernes, 25 de diciembre de 2009

Merry Christmas iPhone and iPod Touch Gamers

Regular updates will ensue in the next few days.  Reviews of The Simpsons, NFS: Shift and Baseball Superstars: 2010 are coming up.

miércoles, 23 de diciembre de 2009

Modern Combat: Sandstorm Review

Price: $4.99

Publisher: Gameloft

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If your expecting to read about a watered down version of the console Call of Duty(by Activision) games, Modern Combat: Sandstorm is in every way, shape and form what you would expect it to be.  Its missions are so worn that I can clearly remember thinking, I wonder where the car chase scene is going to happen, and when the next level loaded up named, Death on Wheels, I knew I had found it.  It's not so much Modern Combat: Sandstorm is a bad game, it just leaves you with a strong feeling you have done all of this before.

As with Gameloft's other FPS, the graphics and controls are nicely done.  Unfortunately Gameloft decided to yet again try their hand at a story to go along with the action.  The storyline is pretty bad.  Some bad middle eastern guys want to destroy the west.,..and so on.  The storyline doesn't hurt the game too badly but it’s unfortunate that their script wasn't better.  After all, they took the time to create cut scenes and do bad voiceovers throughout.  At least give those guys something good to say.  Something other than the captain constantly calling his soldiers "knuckleheads" at every opportunity.

The controls work.  Nothing else to say really.  You are totally in charge of using two virtual analog sticks and everything works as expected.  Turning around can be a bit challenging but overall the controls are solid.  The music in the game is decent although nothing special.  The bullets, missiles, kill sounds, etc are all par for the course.  I know it sounds like I'm being lazy and not giving you the scoop but I'm serious, the sound is exactly on par with other iPhone FPS shooters.  Nothing more, nothing less.

The ai throughout the game is fairly standard.  Duck, cover, yell something Arabic sounding and shoot.  Most of them are dumber than bricks but the game throws a million at you to try and make up for it.  Dying repopulates you in the last checkpoint.  For me, this is really where the game’s value takes a tumble.  Sometimes the last checkpoint will be 4 or 5 minutes back in gameplay.  4 or 5 minutes isn't a lot when you’re playing a console game but just several minutes at a time is how a lot of people play an iPhone game.  It's definitely an issue.  Adding insult to injury, the checkpoint saves that are made by the game are not kept if you leave the game to take a phone call, quit or check your email.  This makes the levels, which average about 15-20 minutes, sometimes take 2 or 3 tries to beat even though you were near the end when you were called.  Imagine receiving a phone call, RING- 15 minutes of work down the drain.  Try answering that phone call in a pleasant voice.  "Hi honey" (through gritted teeth) all the while thinking in the aforementioned captain’s voice, "you knucklehead".

The single player game is fairly long and once you have completed it, you might want to check out the multiplayer mode.  Every time I tried multiplayer it didn’t connect very well.  Which was a bit surprising because Gameloft usually doesn’t have online connection problems.  Rather than put down a mode I wasn’t able to review, I’ll just I wasn’t able to review it enough to make it determinant in my overall score.    You can also unlock a tougher game mode but that is basically it.  For 4.99, Modern Combat's value is middling.  While it does give you 3 hours of so of content, after the initial play through there isn't anything left to see.  I would only recommend this game to people that have never played a Call of Duty game on a console or PC (all 3 of you).  For those of us who have been around the block a few times, Modern Combat: Sandstorm won't give us anything we haven't seen before and to add to that, this time it's on a 3.5 inch screen.

Overall Value for it's $4.99 price point

Overall Value:

martes, 22 de diciembre de 2009

Rail Adventures Review

Price: $1.99

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Rail Adventures uses a good premise for a game.  The setting: You’re an Indiana Jones-like character in a mining shaft on a rail cart trying to escape the “mountains before it’s too late.”  Along the way you can pick up gold, shoot monsters and jump over obstacles.  It has all of the makings of a fun pick up and play game but unfortunately the game doesn’t use its fine premise in an effective way and your left with a game that is frustrating and tedious.

First, even though your cart moves quicker and quicker as it whips around railway bends, you are asked to slow it down by braking.  Slowing down the cart would be an ok gaming mechanic if there was something chasing you or the mine was going to collapse or something was going to happen that only allowed you a certain amount of time to escape with your life.  Sadly, that is not the case.  You can casually slow down the railway car without a worry in the world.  The lack of a time sensitive escape makes the game much less compelling than it could be and the escape action music ironic instead of fitting.

While escaping the mine, you have to kill skeletons, monsters, bats, zombies, etc and lots of them.  They stand directly in front of your path and you try to shoot them 6 or 7 times until you destroy them.  They don’t  move and the only thing that happens if you don’t shoot them 6 or 7 times is you run them over with your cart.  Talk about self preservation.  It would have been a lot more interesting if they could move and instead of a fixed crosshair for your gun (straight ahead), you had the ability to aim at least left and right.  As it is, it feels like something that was added on at the end of the development cycle.

Most damning though was after going through the first level in the game, I was instructed to replay it.  I received very little explanation as to why.  All I knew was that the game didn’t unlock the next level for me.  I restarted the first level thinking it would tell me what I did wrong or what I needed to do differently.  Instead it told me the same thing it told me the first time.  After playing the level yet again, I saw screen I missed the first time.  “You must collect all gold bars and have all percentages over 95% to help unlock the final level and over 85% to unlock the next level”.  What in the hell?  Instead of having a timed escape, the adventurer has some arbitrary percentages he has to meet.  This is without a doubt a game killer.

The game has nice music and the graphics aren’t all that bad but due to the game design, little else matters.  This game is good for all of 10 or 20 minutes because it doesn’t give you any reward for playing.  So is this game worth its $1.99 asking price?  Not in the least unless you find it fun trying to meet arbitrary goals and see the same level over and over again.  Think of this scenario;  You finally escaped the doomed mountain on your rail cart.  Wait, no I didn’t, you only jumped 80% of the objects in the middle of the tracks which obviously means you are doomed…doomed to play the same level again and again.  No thanks.

Overall Value for it's $1.99 price point
Overall Value:

lunes, 21 de diciembre de 2009

Boxed In 2 Review

Cost: $.99

Publisher: boxedingame.com/

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You've probably heard of games like these.  They may have been referred to as casual gaming.  But there isn't anything casual about trying the same level over and over again, sometimes 10 or more times trying to finish it off.  It’s challenging, frustrating and surprisingly addictive.  Overwhelmingly though there is a feeling that what you are doing is a whole lot of fun.

The graphics are simple and the music is too but neither hurts the overall game play.  The game isn’t one that you are likely to play and beat in one sitting.  Instead you'll play and move through levels until you get stuck and inevitably frustrated.  The next day, maybe while you’re on the toilet (admit it, you play games on the toilet all of the time) an idea comes to you and your able to move on.

The only frustrating thing can be when you get stuck on a level and no matter what you do, a solution doesn’t come to you.  In those cases, you cannot continue to the next level.  It would be nice to be able to move on in that instance and come back later once you play through other levels.   Even though I'm sure you would feel like you are only cheating yourself…right? Anyway, in an instance like that just ask your wife or girlfriend.  I'm sure she'll be happy to show you how easy it is to beat.

Lack of cheating aside, Boxed In 2 will give you hours of enjoyment, 50 levels in all, for just a buck.  By far one of the most entertaining and worthwhile games of the year.  Amazingly enough, this game was developed almost entirely by a 2 man shop.  Way to show the big boys how to do things (I'm looking at you Gameloft and EA Mobile). Rumor has it this two man crew has another game coming out soon.  Trust me when I say I will be waiting in line to play.

Overall Value for it's $99 price point

Overall Value:

domingo, 20 de diciembre de 2009

N.O.V.A Near Orbit Vanguard Alliance Review

Cost: $6.99

Publisher: Gameloft

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I guess I should start this review with a disclaimer.  I don't like HALO.  I think it's bad.  I think the single player mode has an embarrassingly poor story line (in all of the HALO games) and the multiplayer mode isn't much better than some of the first multiplayer games ever developed for PC gamers.  I know people like it.  I am not one of those people.

The reason I mention all of this before reviewing N.O.V.A is that for all intents and purposes, N.O.V.A is another 4 letter name for HALO (complete with a stupid acronym).  That doesn't mean it's all bad.  In fact, parts of the game are surprisingly fun.

N.O.V.A starts off its single player mode with some decent looking cut scenes and with some half thought out story about aliens in the future.  I have no problem with this.  Just a typical sci-fi plot.  The first thing you'll notice as you go through the opening tutorial level is that it's pretty.  In fact, the graphics are among the best of any game I have seen on the iPhone.  The colors are bright and clean.  In fact, the levels you play through in the game (12 or so) all look good on the iPhone's screen.  Each is distinctive as you go from a jungle map to a space ship to an alien planet.

The sound is standard fare for a science fiction FPS.  The background music is nice but some of the alien noises are a little over the top.  My wife overheard me playing and thoughts I was killing dinosaurs.  Unfortunately there are very few different alien types in the game.  So even though you travel all over the galaxy, you’re likely to see the same foes again and again.

The controls are ok.  However, in some places it is almost impossible to turn quickly enough to not be killed or grabbed (some of the aliens can pick you up).  That brings me to one of my most hated parts of this game. The ubiquitous enemy pop-ins.  Like an old Nintendo game, if I walk 1 more foot I know another enemy will fall through the ceiling or magically teleport behind me in a room and begin shooting.  The publisher, Gameloft, has trouble with this in quite a few of their games (another example is Modern Combat).  Being shot suddenly from behind occurs throughout the entire game and can become quite frustrating.

Along with the enemy pop-in, there are other annoyances that keep the game from being as fun as it could be.  For example, as I run through a level, I may miss killing one or two baddies.  The game will allow me to go up the elevator, into the next room but not allow me to progress.  What’s wrong?  Oh, I get it.  I forgot to kill an alien and he is down the elevator waiting for me to kill him (literally).  Wow, how fun.

Once you leave the single player campaign, things do get a bit better.  The game offers the standard Bluetooth multiplayer and local Wi Fi options but it also offers online Wi Fi mode that allows you to play 3 other people around the world in 1 on 1 (on 1 on 1) death match.  For this mode, it uses Gameloft's excellent online server service.  The game connects you quickly to an online lobby and I was able to connect immediately each time I tried a new game. Multiplayer offers several maps that allow you to see everyone at the same time.  Death comes quickly to those regardless of their skill.  You have the ability to use 6 weapons to maim and kill your opponents in any way you can.  This part of the game can be fun for a few minutes.

Unfortunately the only multiplayer option available is deathmatch.  It would have been nice to offer co-op mode (at least someone else could share the experience of that awful story) or team deathmatch.  perhaps these will be future additions but for now, you should get a good 30 minutes of enjoyment out of deathmatch.  Probably a lot more if you really like HALO.

All in all, NOVA isn't necessarily a bad game.  I think it's a bit disappointing that it wasn’t better.  When are we going to see story telling on the iPhone like we do in games like Half Life or Deus Ex on a PC or console?  If you play through the whole single player game and give multiplayer a shot, the game should give you a good 2 or 3 hours.  It also offers some achievements and other rewards for playing the game that will give some people enough reason to replay it.  Overall, N.O.V.A is decent in a pinch but I doubt I'll run back to it anytime soon.

Overall Value for it's $6.99 price point

Overall Value:

sábado, 19 de diciembre de 2009

Doom: Resurrection Review


Publisher: ID Software

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Doom: Resurrection is a tough game to judge.  It has quite a few good qualities but one major downside, especially when comparing it to other first person shooters on the iPhone. That downside, depending on who you are and how you enjoy playing games, could be considered a big one.

The specific downfall is one that plagued early iPhone games.  You control the crosshair and the aiming of your gun but you have no control over your movement.  If you have ever played House of the Dead or any other "rail shooter" you know what I mean.  Your character moves around a lot but you are not the one doing the moving.  If you can get past that hurdle, Doom can be a pretty good experience.

First off, the graphics are great.  Pretty clean cut and if you ever played any of the original Doom's, you will ap0preciate that all of the textures and graphics have been vastly improved.  The sounds are creepy and can give you a decent idea of what type of monster you’re facing before they even show up on the screen.

The monsters also do vary quite a bit.  There are at least 8 or 9 different monsters in the game and if you count some variations, even more.  Each of them moves differently, sounds different and takes a different amount of damage.  The variation is nice and makes the game more interesting as you move along.  The game play is also varied by the boss battles that ensue through several portions of the game.  The boss battles really are generally much tougher and a couple of them may take you a few tries.  Thankfully the checkpoint system doesn’t make you start too far back.

The controls for the game are very good.  The one I ended up using was motion based.  Depending on which way you turned the iPhone, the crosshairs move with you.  Calibration resets at the beginning of each level and can be reset at anytime through the option menu.  It's easily the best control system on a FPS that I have seen but since it’s a rail shooter, it can't be compared apples to apples.

Though the game only has a single player mode, it is quite long.  I was able to play it for just about 3 hours so before finishing it.  There isn't really much replay value for the actual campaign, especially since this game plays on rails (literally).  There are a few things you can do after beating the game.  There are several interesting challenges built into the game along with some maps you can play separately from the campaign.  The amount of content packed into Doom: Resurrection puts other games like Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies to shame.  If you get past the shooter on rails limitation, you will find yourself having a very good time indeed.

Overall Value for it's $6.99 price point

Overall Value:

Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies Review

Cost: $9.99

Publisher: Activision

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Call of Duty: World at War: Zombies is a FPS built in the vein of the other Call of Duty games.  The script; Nazis have turned into Zombies and apparently want to eat your brains.  You need to kill them to survive.  First person shooters have been tried on the iPhone with a varying degrees of success.  COD: Zombies has its ups and downs.  The ups would easily outweigh the downs if it only the game included more value for the money.

The game includes both single player and multiplayer components.  The single player mode is built on the idea of killing zombies, lots of them.  In fact, the mode revolves around the idea of continuous swarms of zombies trying to break down barricades and killing as many zombies that make it through.  You run around the house, spending the points you earn for killing zombies on new guns and to open up new portions of the house.  If you think it sounds really basic, you would be right but it is also a great deal of fun.  The problems lie in the fact that there is simply one level in the game and just the one single player mode (survival mode).  Inevitably you will die; it’s just a matter of trying to make it as long as you can before a zombie kills you in cliché zombie fashion (again with the brain eating).

Activision promises new maps and levels but unfortunately they will charge for the additional maps they release.  In other words, you are spending 10 bucks for 1 mode and one map.  A steep price to play in my option.  That being said, the controls are great and offer 3 different control schemes for killing zombies.  In an iPhone FPS, nothing is more important than fluid controls and one of the three control options is likely to be a good fit for you.

Multiplayer is hit and miss.  The online component usually has games available where you and 3 additional players try to fight off the advancing zombie horde but unfortunately disconnects are common.  The game also offers Bluetooth and local Wi-Fi options.  The only multiplayer mode offered is co-op which is fun and welcome in most FPS, but no deathmatch mode means replay value is less than it could be.

If my reviews only dealt with the graphics, controls and the sound of an iPhone game, Call of Duty: World at War Zombies would be rated much higher.  As it is, the value just isn't there and the money you spend on this game could be better spent on several other, lower cost games.  That all being said, if you have the money and are looking for an hour or two diversion (and not much more), Zombies is a top notch fit.

Ratings for this game at $9.99

Overall Value:      

viernes, 18 de diciembre de 2009

Still working on design

I have went through about 10 different themes on WordPress.  WordPress is a powerful development tool.  New reviews coming in the next few days including Call of Duty: World at War Zombies and Modern Combat: Sandstorm.  It's going to be a FPS weekend!

jueves, 17 de diciembre de 2009

Asphalt 5 Review

Cost $4.99

Publisher: Gameloft

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Before I put the game down too much, I want you to know Asphalt 5 can be a fun game.  However, often it is too challenging for the wrong reasons.  The most challenging aspect of the game is it's ai is made of the stuff of infamous sports games past.  You know what I'm talking about.  It's the ai that refuses to lose no matter what.  You can crash it into the wall, watch it fall back halfway around the track and stunningly it will begin catching up with you (all too quickly).  This isn't the type of ai that is fun to play against, it's the type that makes you want to stop playing the game and throw your iPhone against the wall.

It's not all bad.  The game has quite a bit of functionality and prettiness for an iPhone game.  It certainly is nice to looks at.  I feel no qualms in comparing Asphalt 5’s graphics to a PS2 game.  It's nice to see snowflakes fall in Aspen and the solar flares in Hawaii.  Little touches like this make the environments you race in a pleasure.  There are also quite a few pretty cars to drive and they are based on real life cars.  It's not such a novelty to have real life exotic cars to use on the console but on your iPhone, it’s pleasure to drive a Ferrari or Lamborghini.  The game even gives you a bike or two you can race.

The sound is also nice.  The game gives you different engine sounds for each type of car you can drive.  They sound right and the games ability to integrate your iPhone music directly into the game is welcome.  Between the graphics and the sound, the overall presentation is handled very well.

Multiplayer is full featured and actually works.  I have been able to play on demand wireless racing with people all around the world every time I have tried.  The only issue I have found with the multiplayer capabilities is the lack of other games in the waiting room.  It common to see just one game being set up in the lobby.  If you didn't like the map the host is using, you can create your own game and wait...and wait.  Nevertheless, I have rarely seen the kind of functionality Asphalt 5 offers in another iPhone sports game.  The real time multiplayer racing was a nice treat that was fairly unexpected (especially since it works).  In my hour or so of multiplayer time I had only 1 game get disconnected.

The game modes in the single player include a straight race, a time challenge and elimination mode.  The elimination mode kills career mode in Asphalt 5.  It is impossible to destroy or eliminate all of the cars before the race is over.  Maybe, just maybe you will be lucky enough to do it once or twice but try doing it for every map and you are going to get frustrated.  Unfortunately, elimination modes difficulty makes beating career mode all but impossible.  Possibly this will be fixed in a future update but in the meantime, no matter how much you upgraded you car, you are likely to be stuck trying to win the elimination modes for each track many times.

Asphalt 5 is a watered down version of Burnout.  Burnout and Asphalt 5 have so much in common, including getting speed boost and points for "close calls" on the track, that it’s uncanny.  It’s arcade racing in its most basic form.  If that doesn’t sound like your idea of fun, don't expect to like Asphalt 5’s single player mode.  However, if you are looking for great real time, arcade, multiplayer racing game then Asphalt 5 will fit like a glove.

Overall Value for it's $4.99 price point

Overall Value:

viernes, 13 de febrero de 2009

Warsaw Business Journal interviewed Marcin Fr?ckiewicz, CEO of TS2

Warsaw Business Journal interviewed Marcin Fr?ckiewicz, CEO of TS2 Satellite Technologies, a global satellite access services provider

WBJ: US Marine Corps, US Army Corps of Engineers, GROM and many more... How did you manage to gain these impressive contracts?

Marcin Fr?ckiewicz: To answer I need to go back to the beginning. During my trips to Iraq I noticed that ordinary American soldiers, different from Polish, had literally no access to the internet or cell-phones to get in touch with their loved ones. This is when we started to offer them a wireless internet access via satellite. Groups of soldiers pooled money to buy our terminals. They referred us to their colleagues from next contingents and so on. Popularity among regular soldiers brought inquiries from official US institutions, and this is how we were allowed to those big tenders with government orders and with contractors for the US Army. US Army Corps of Engineers bought around 100 BGAN terminals – these are smaller than laptops, but are more expensive than over-sized VSAT access equipment. However, individual soldiers still remain our most important customers.

WBJ: How many customers does your company have? Are these just military?

MF: It is a list of about 50-60 institutional customers, not only military, but also private companies that use our VSAT internet access. With our partner we provide services for nine US embassies in Africa. The number of individual soldiers using our services in Iraq and Afghanistan is around 15,000. Non-military customers include Agora, for example, which equips its foreign correspondents with satellite phones. World Bank also uses our phone services. This customer list comprises several hundred.

WBJ: How you make your services competitive?

MF: Price is the key. We cooperate with cheap middleman and also directly with satellite operators. We buy services in Dubai, where our partners' warehouses and distributors of the equipment are located. It is also a tax-free zone, so here go another costs. We have partner install teams on site in the Middle East, so we are able to set up the VSAT access very quickly.

Our company tries to minimize the operation costs, hence our small office and a large network of partners. This is a business, where you win by knowledge rather than by building a big structure.

MP: Will you suffer from recently announced spending cuts at the Defense Ministry?

MF: I doubt it. 85 percent of our orders go abroad. Of course there will be fewer government tenders and the competition will grow. So we have to expect fewer orders for our satellite phones in Poland. Plus some contracts for internet access may not be renewed.

WBJ: What will you do when the American troops withdraw from Iraq then?

MF: From the business point of view obviously we are not looking forward to US pulling out, as most of our activity is based on the US Army presence in the Middle East. We would need to come up with a solution to reorganize our business. But there would still be corporate customers left for us.

WBJ: How do you see the future of this sector?

MF: We are anxiously awaiting launching of the Ka-Sat scheduled for 2010. The aim of this project is to make satellite access services cheap enough for ordinary Kowalski to make use of it. The prices of bands are to drop ten times, while the equipment is also expected to cost a few hundred z?oty rather than several thousands. Our company would also like to get involved in this new offer, because it will help us target individual customers.

About TS2 Satellite Provider

TS2 specializes in providing global satellite access services. Our core business is broadband access to the Internet in areas with poor telecommunications infrastructure and mobile satellite phones communication. The main medium of used transmission is a two-way satellite transfer system, which provides good access to the satellite network in even the least accessible areas. It not only provides a broadband connection but also a wide range of additional data and voice services.

Before end of 2008 year, the TS2 solutions have been implemented for United States Marine Corps (USMC), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Australian Defence Force (ADF), Command of Polish Navy, Polish National Police, Polish National Headquarters of the State Fire Services, Border Guard (Poland), World Bank Group, Lockheed Martin Information Technology, Halliburton Energy Services, KBR, General Dynamics Information Technology, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace, US Naval Research Laboratory, ITT Corporation - Aerospace / Communications Division, CACI Technologies, ARINC Incorporated, North Eastern Aeronautical Company (Neany), Warsaw Stock Exchange, Polish Supreme Chamber of Control, Polish State Railways PKP S.A., University of Warsaw, Reuters, TVP - Polish TV, PAP - Polish Press Agency, BMW - Bayerische Motoren Werke, DaimlerChrysler, IBM - International Business Machines Corporation, HP - Hewlett-Packard, Carrefour, Colgate-Palmolive, PGNiG - Polish Petroleum and Gas Mining, White&Case, Sun Microsystems, PMM - Polish Medical Mission, UPS - United Parcel Service and Polish Medical Air Rescue.

miércoles, 11 de febrero de 2009

ThurayaIP Broadband Data Service

Thuraya IP satellite modem offers Broadband Data Service through a highly compact, ultra lightweight and advanced satellite terminal. As the world's first and only Mobile Satellite Service to support 384 Kbps streaming IP, ThurayaIP offers superior 'Always on' super quick Internet access even from the remotest regions in more than 120 countries in the world.

A generation ahead in design and performance, ThurayaIP satellite broadband modem combines ultimate performance with a customized rugged design and protection to sustain rough usage. It is very portable and easy to setup - a simple plug and play mechanism that comes with user friendly graphical user interface.

ThurayaIP is ideal…

For single users using bandwidth-hungry applications, such as transmission of store and forward video, live video and video conferencing.
For small teams who need to set up a temporary office with broadband connectivity from standard to various data applications.
Corporate customers
Government agencies
Non Governmental Organizations


Internet access – High speed Internet at speeds of up to 444 Kbps.
Streaming – Select guaranteed quality of service up to 384 Kbps on demand for bandwidth hungry applications like video streaming.
Remote Connectivity – Broadband access to your corporate network, for up-to-date and instant access to company and customer information.
Email – Send and receive email via the Internet or other email applications.
File transfer – Send and receive large files.


Choice of multi performance options – Access your data applications with multiple performance options to suit your various operational requirements:

“Standard” background IP service with bandwidth of up to 444 Kbps for Internet access, etc
Dedicated streaming IP services ranging from 16 Kbps to 384 Kbps for bandwidth hungry applications like video streaming.
Absolutely Portable – Exceptionally small in size (A5 size), ThurayaIP can be easily moved across locations and set up instantly.
Highly Competitive – Offers the most attractive and competitive service with volume based charging via various bundling options and unlimited usage price plans.
Robust – Conforms to IP 55 standard ingress protection standards; enabling outdoor installation in extreme weather conditions for extended periods of time.
Unmatched Flexibility – Easy to use in both portable and semi-fixed environments. Instant LAN setup through multi-user support allows an entire team to share a single unit.
Convenience– Simply connect ThurayaIP to a laptop, point to the satellite and enjoy satellite Broadband services.
Stand Alone – Easy to setup and start working- no laptop or PC is required to navigate setup. An embedded button and LCD in the terminal guides you through the whole setup control.
Complete security with GmPRS encryption algorithm (GEA2) - Connect seamlessly via your preferred VPN application.

ThurayaIP Brochure
ThurayaIP User Manual

viernes, 23 de enero de 2009

US Army engineers choose BGAN to build resilience

Inmarsat Press Release - BGAN is supporting US Army engineering operations and helping boost the morale of troops serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Two new contracts awarded by the US Army to Inmarsat partners demonstrate the range of applications offered by the mobile broadband solution. The US Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) is using BGAN for remote planning, building and disaster recovery.

Disaster response

USACE provides engineering and infrastructure services for navigation, flood control, disaster response and also constructs military facilities. The corps has in recent years been deployed in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and has assisted in Iraq and Afghanistan. Global satellite communications provider Vizada is sub-contracting services to Delta Wave Communications, who will provide BGAN and other mobile satcom services to USACE.

Constant contact

Vizada says BGAN will make possible the smooth-running of operations by enabling constant contact between headquarters and teams in the field. BGAN will also give greater autonomy and improve morale for people working remotely for USACE through broadband data connections.

"Vizada continues to enhance its service and solution offerings to meet the rapidly changing needs of customers such as USACE," said Bob Baker, president of Vizada Inc.

Link with home

BGAN is also providing a much-wanted link with home for US Army soldiers stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan. TS2 Satellite Technologies is supplying rugged, lightweight Thrane & Thrane Explorer terminals so soldiers can access the internet and email, with airtime provided by Satcom Group. Able to withstand temperatures of up to 80 degrees C and also resistant to water, humidity, shock and dirt, the terminals are highly portable and quick and easy to set up.

"The internet access has resulted in major morale improvements. Troops no longer feel cut off from home - this is especially important for the many who are married and have young children," said TS2 chief executive Marcin Frackiewicz.

More information on Inmarsat website