Saturday, 30 January 2016

Adventure Time: Finn and Jake Investigations (Xbox One) - Review

Adventure Time: Finn and Jake Investigations is available now on the Xbox One and is priced at £39.99 on the Xbox Marketplace.

I have never watched Adventure Time. I know, I know why bother reading the rest of the review? Well I'm reviewing it for everyone out there who hasn't seen it either, and who possibly has kids mithering for it because 'it looks cute'.

So yeah, I come to this game fresh out of the box, knowing nothing of the world of Ooo past what this game shows me. I have no idea why they live in a tree or even why Jake can morph into various different things in combat. I've been told the game is voiced by the same people who voice the show and that it is a representation of the Adventure Time TV show. And that, I am afraid, concludes all I can give to fans of the show. Now for anyone else who is thinking of picking up this game based on the merits of the actual game rather than a love for the original show, I have a little bit more to say...

I thought this game would be a fun little game to play with my children. An investigation game that doesn't include fine-combing a grisly murder scene or references that would swoop right over their heads and leave them bored. I was right in this, the game is quite a cutesy little point-and-click game which sees Finn and Jake investigating various crimes in Ooo. There's nothing too taxing about solving the puzzles and the children solved much of the game themselves. Like any point-and-click game it features a lot 'this person needs this before you can get through there' type quests, but my children enjoyed these greatly. My eldest is seven this week and he often complained of 'having to do the same thing over and over' so bear this in mind.

It wasn't just the repetitive fetch quests that were dull though, the combat - whilst fun for the first couple of battles - soon devolves into an extremely simplistic matter of bashing various buttons until the enemies are dispatched, which failed to even keep my three year old amused. My son actually told me all about his homework whilst not looking at the screen and still beat the baddies. It really is that easy.

Achievements are easily gained, and the game is easy to complete. There is very little chance that you'd wish to replay it, as the game is repetitive enough the first time around. The game just lacks a little polish and the gameplay is too dull and repetitive for me to be able to recommend it. If you're looking to increase the old Gamerscore and see this below £15 then pick it up, maybe.

4/10 TRY IT!
A code was provided for the purpose of this review.

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Sparkle 2 (Xbox One) - Review

Sparkle 2 is available from the 27th January on the Xbox One and is priced at £6.39. There will be a 15% discount at launch.

I reviewed their first Xbox One offering, Sparkle Unleashed back when that was released and really enjoyed it. There was just something about its simplicity that made it so much fun. In fact until I received Sparkle 2 I was still playing Unleashed regularly, trying to complete it on hard.

Now there were some things that bugged me about Unleashed, more so the longer I've had the game. The chains around the ball once you got to the more difficult levels were infuriating and seemed like a really forced in way to extend the game. Other niggles that I had at the beginning disappeared the longer I played it, such as the shooter that was on rails along the bottom of the screen rather than rotating from one position. At first this really riled me, but after playing the game for awhile you soon get used to it. So much so that moving from this to Sparkle 2 took some getting used to as Sparkle 2 makes use of a rotating shooter, making it much more like my personal Xbox 360 favourite Zuma.

I remember writing in my review of Unleashed that it could borrow more from Zuma - the rotating shooter being the main thing. Sparkle 2 definitely feels more like a Zuma clone, and I don't mean that negatively - it just feels more polished than its predecessor. They have removed those annoying chained balls and it has made the game infinitely more fun. There are new power ups too which are fun to play around with. You can also add power ups to four points on your shooter which is another great addition. In short they have taken everything I liked about Sparkle Unleashed and improved upon it. This game is easy to pick up, difficult to master and even harder to put down. I did fifty levels in one sitting and completed it in three - in fact such are the levels of my addiction that after completing it I immediately picked the highest difficulty and restarted it. Achievements in this game are generous and not all that difficult, at least if you enjoy the game. They're basically just for playing the game and the different modes available.

At £6.39 I can wholeheartedly recommend this game to anyone who just wants a fun game to play. It really is so addictive and seeing a big chain come together is still so satisfying. Grab it when it releases guys!

9/10 BUY IT!
A code was provided for the purpose of this review. 

Monday, 11 January 2016

Big Pharma (Steam) - Review

Big Pharma is available now on Steam and is priced at £18.99.

In Big Pharma you are tasked with running a drug company. You have to create the pills, balance the books and basically make sure you turn a profit from selling your drugs. Which sounds like it'd be fairly simple, but watch the side effects of your drugs - too many and it isn't going to sell. Similarly if your drug is too perfect, you're gonna kill the market. It's a tough balancing act. 

I am a massive fan of Theme Hospital and every year or so I replay it and start looking for a game that comes close to its greatness. If, like me, you came to Big Pharma hoping for that I'm afraid you're going to be disappointed.

That's not to say Big Pharma is a bad game. It isn't, it's actually alright. But for me it just isn't in depth enough where it matters. You do have to put a lot of thought into creating the right drugs and working out which machines you need in order to do so yes, but the act of doing this is what cheapens the game. You end up with rooms full of winding conveyor belts that change your pill from one colour to another (increasing its abilities/side effects) before it reaches the end of the line. But it's just not very satisfying.

The magic of Theme Hospital was in the humour and Big Pharma sorely lacks in that department. It wants to take itself seriously but the game play is just too gimmicky in places for that to happen. I wanted FULL management, building, placing of rooms etc. not just pills and profit. The business management side of the game is quite good and will see you making some pretty questionable decisions ethics-wise, but for the most part the game just feels pretty lacking. 

The game works beautifully, I haven't yet encountered a bug. Controls are great and the interface is intuitive. At first it feels really complicated - the tutorials feel never-ending and aren't worded very well in my opinion, but it quickly becomes quite simple and repetitive. And in this price range I just don't think that's acceptable. Wait for a sale guys.

5/10 TRY IT!
A code was provided for the purpose of this review.