Archive for January, 2014

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If you’re a Simpsons fan, at some point in time you’ve probably wanted to build the ever changing Springfield yourself, The Simpsons: Tapped Out gives you that opportunity in a big way. After an accident caused by Homer destroys Springfield, it’s up to you to rebuild Springfield from the ashes. You’ll start the game with a tutorial in which they make you place certain houses in specific spots, but after the tutorial it’s all up to you. There are a lot of games similar to Tapped Out, but creating your own city really works well with the quirkiness of the Simpsons franchise, even if a building placement does not make any sense, chances are it looks good in Springfield.

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I find myself playing this on a daily basis, there is so much to do and with updates constantly adding more, it’s easy to put the time in to create things how you please. Putting characters in missions is an easy process now with the recent updates, when a character is available for a mission their face will pop up in the left corner, click their face and select whatever mission you desire, when they are done, click the little thumbs up above their head and collect your money and experience. Some buildings require you to pay a small bit of money, but usually have a huge pay off. Once you have enough money it’s up to you what you buy, some houses and buildings give more xp and money than others, but will also cost more money. You can go the route of spending Donuts on Premium Items, donuts can be bought using real money, by levelling up, or by finding them throughout your Springfield. You can also use Donuts to rush missions, if you really need the Springfield money from a mission, this is always an option. The game rewards you on a daily basis, if you play for 5 straight days you’ll earn a Mystery Box, in the box you can find something valuable like a Premium Item or Donuts, to something not so valuable like a burning bush, or section of fence. 

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Once you have your Springfield up and running you’ll have a rating system, the rating system will determine how much extra experience and money you’ll earn from missions. There are 8 different sections that you’ll be judged on, each have a 5 stars you can earn, things like Tree-hugging which rates you on how much plant life you have, and socialism rates you on how often you visit your friends Springfield’s. You can help collect 3 things in each of your friend’s Springfield’s every 24 hours, but during the holiday’s you’ll have holiday specific collectibles to find or give. The more people you add to Tapped Out, the more money and experience you’ll earn on a daily basis, and extra bonuses you’ll earn during the holiday’s. The extra experience really helps, levelling up will earn you Donuts but also unlock new story based missions, these have funny moments and will have your characters running around doing amusing things, or have you build key buildings from the show. I remember when I first played this game, it didn’t have much to it, it got boring quick, but now with what seems to be monthly updates that raise the level cap, add buildings to buy that can earn you new characters, or extra missions, gives the game plenty of content. 

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Springfield is not the only thing you can build bigger however, eventually you’ll be able to build your very own Squidport, this involves buying sections of boardwalk and placing stores on it, most of the stores are mission based, but there are additional shops you can add. Springfield requires you to buy plots of land, while the Squidport will require you to buy sections of water, it can be pricey when you are just getting started, but it’s a good investment once you start to earn more money. On top of all this you’ll be able to build your very own Krustyland, you’ll have to build the Krustyland bus station which you press and it’ll take you to a separate section of the game. In Krustyland you’ll need to earn tickets to build rides, attractions, and land, money is not an option in there, but just like Springfield, the bigger it gets, the more you’ll earn, it adds a huge section of game, and more reason to keep playing. In Krustyland you’ll have random people walk around, not just your characters, you’ll earn tickets from these people, Krustyland has a rating system, the rating will determine how many extra people you’ll have walking around. Not all of your characters will be able to visit Krustyland to do missions, some require you to build specific rides or attractions. 

This game does have problems though, with the EA name attached to it, it’s really no surprise. This game has frequent server crashes, just trying to get into the game can be a pain, you’ll get one or two screens telling you to either hit retry or telling you to wait for it to reconnect, when it’s because of an update that is fine, but it does it a lot at random times. Another problem it has is it shuts down randomly, going into Krustyland can cause this to happen, but it does it often when just putting characters into missions or just having a look around. There are also minor glitches like buildings appearing where they are not supposed to, or buildings looking like they’ve been blown up, but the minor glitches can be an easy fix. 

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The Simpsons: Tapped Out is not a perfect game, but it is a lot of fun. There is so much to do and build throughout Springfield that make it easy to keep playing. Even the smaller things like being able to scratch Kwik-E-Mart Scratch and Win tickets to being able to bet on dogs at the Springfield Downs, add an extra element for those who have watched the older episodes. Even if you don’t watch The Simpsons this game can be a lot of fun as it has hours of ever increasing gameplay. It does not force you to use your Donuts which I liked, you can use them for the rarer items. The Simpsons: Tapped Out is free, and I recommend it for those on Android and iOS.

Overall Score:

9/10

 

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If you’ve met me it does not take long to realize that I am a huge Batman fan, so it’s no surprise that I got excited to play through and experience the back story of some of the biggest characters in Batman history. While the nostalgia was there, some of the technical problems hindered the experience. However, the first thing I noticed is how great everything looks, lots of detail make up a great looking Gotham City, the characters look very good and Batman’s equipment starts to show wear and tear from combat. The game starts off smooth combat situations, but once you start getting into large battles you may start noticing some of the game’s flaws, it seems Batman has trouble fighting more than one enemy, even though he would do that on a daily basis, I’ll explain why later in the review. 

The story is actually very well done, the fight scenes are engaging and the voice acting is as amazing as it has been in the series. It was neat seeing a young Joker as he began his destruction of Gotham City, Harley Quinn when she was still a psychologist, and Killer Croc makes his first appearance, among many other characters throughout the Batman franchise. Some of those characters turn into boss battles, some of which can be very long and repetitive. The first boss you fight will do the same 3 or 4 moves, it involves doing the same thing for each attack, followed by the same partial cut-scene, and that seems to continue throughout each boss battle. If you fail it’s the same thing over and over until the boss finally falls, and though it’s repetitive, defeating the bosses can be really rewarding. This time around Batman will take gadgets and gear from the fight, taking Alfred’s advice early in the game. The story mode however is very short, but with a lot of information and action are packed into each section of the game. 

The gadgets worked really well for me, I loved the quick shot option for some of them, it made doing combos fast and efficient, but controls at times for other moves didn’t always work so well. The controls can be glitchy, it made large battles kind of a pain, counter attack didn’t always respond because he couldn’t cut an attack short and immediately counter the next enemy, not only that but if you are fighting multiple enemies, and there is a gun involved, you will get shot from afar. The gun men are not always easy to get to, at times you just have to go straight at them. The upgrades however can make the battles a bit easier, allowing him to throw critical strikes once you get a combo streak going, Batman will unleash devastating strikes that not only look cool, be give a real sense of Batman’s power. The gadgets will also aid the fights, after a fight with the Electrocutioner, Batman will get a bad-ass set of gloves, the enemies barely stand a chance. 

Exploring the city can be fun, gliding around and using the grapnel can make things go a lot quicker, but if you don’t feel like traveling the city, you can use quick travel to get around instantly. The Riddler makes an introduction, he will have you running around the city looking for Extortion Files and Data Packs, if you plan on finding all the collectibles. Anarky will paint anarchy symbols in random places, which can only be seen in detective mode. There are other things to do around the city, like turn Batman into a CSI and reconstruct Crime Scenes using detective mode, then track down the killer bringing them to justice, as well as Crime in Progress sets, but they are usually the same thing in the same place, the missions never seem to go away, but they are good if you want to level up and upgrade gadgets, armour and equipment, plus complete challenges. Most Wanted missions will have you exploding barrels, disabling weapon caches, and finding and disabling bombs, among other missions, they can be fun and are a good distraction from the main game.

On top of the in-game challenges there are challenge maps, they will test your Predatory stealth skills, your Combat skills and there are Combat Training missions, all challenge groups require you to complete tasks which unlock higher star ratings at the end of each group of enemies. These can be fun and offer different challenges for different types of players, plus they add quite a bit of extra gameplay. You can also go online, it is a 2 vs. 3 vs. 3, it puts a player controlled Batman and Robin versus 3 of Joker’s Henchman and 3 of Bane’s Henchman, online consists of many cool weapons for both Joker’s side and Bane’s side but they are battery powered, plus they have some really cool gadgets too, like Enhanced vision to counter Batman’s Detective Vision.

All game modes however have their own problems, there are a many minor glitches like texture popping and some annoying glitches like freezing. Ankle high ledges can cause problems for Batman, for some reason he just keeps walking along the edge of it rather than just stepping up, the grapnel hook does not always connect to the most intelligent spot, at times it will shoot you over to another ledge. The enemies that are found throughout the city can be very annoying, snipers can see through walls, no matter which way you move and no matter how big of a wall you’re behind, the enemy sniper will follow every single movement, this becomes more frustrating when you’re looking for collectibles and suddenly Batman gets sniped in the back. The camera can be a pain too, it seems to get stuck on scenery, it can obstruct your vision of enemies, or suddenly turn when you are trying to run along pressure pads, when running and rolling, the camera will make him roll into a wall at times, making evasion a bit more difficult. Batman can be slow and sluggish, but free-flow fighting can make him quick and powerful.   

In the end, Batman: Arkham Origins is a great game and will likely bring nostalgia to any Batman fan, it’s unfortunate that it has so many technical glitches that mess with the flow of the game. The game has cool avatar awards for different challenges, like a Joker costume for beating the game and a Batman costume for completing the “I am the night” mode on the Xbox 360. The story makes up for some of the glitches, but it has a very short story mode. If you are a fan of the other games in the series, or are interested in getting started on them, this game is a good place to start, despite being the third in the series. Lots of collectibles, unlockables, and alternate modes with increased difficulty settings give this game quite a bit of gameplay, and value for those who enjoy it.  

Overall Score:

8/10