Platforms: iPhone, iPad, Android
Price: 69p / $0.99
It seems that studios are still having trouble coming up with how to properly make a movie-licensed mobile game. In the meantime we get Die Hard, an endless runner loosely based on the upcoming movie A Good Day to Die Hard.
Rather than playing as John McClain you control his son Jack, so right off the bat you're one Bruce Willis short of the minimum for a Die Hard game.
Controlling Jack is similar to other endless runners, most notably Agent Dash, as you swipe left and right change lanes, up and down to jump and reload and then tap on enemies to shoot.
Technically, it's kind of a mess as the game can't seem to handle rendering the environment more than 20 feet in front of Jack and the animation for turning around corners looks more like a drunken stumble. But it's the quick deaths from trigger-happy enemies that are the game's undoing.
While running through Pripyat, Jack is constantly collecting coins that can be used to upgrade his weapons and health. Unlocking checkpoints to actually progress though uses bucks, which are earned slowly through levelling up or quickly by simply paying for them.
Bucks are also used to continue after dying, so you'll need to start shelling out some cash if you want to have a run that lasts more than a few seconds.
To the game's credit, there is a nice adrenaline ability that briefly puts the action into slow-motion for easier shooting. Unfortunately, that ability was not attached to a better game. Rather than a fun tie-in with the action flick, the game becomes a literal interpretation of its name and dies. Hard.
> Download 'Die Hard' from the App Store
> Download 'Die Hard' from the Google Play Store
Platforms: iPhone, iPad
Price: 69p / $0.99
Rock Runners is the latest in the runner style of platformer, using a single tap to jump as the helmeted hero jobs through each stage. While tapping jumps, holding a finger on the screen can also help you swing from specific grapple points strewn across each level.
While the production values are high with nice colorful graphics, the levels all use a similar underground look. Despite their lack of visual diversity, the actual level layouts are far more creative.
Falling stalactites, evil purple goo, flying enemies and portals are just some of the obstacles that players will have to navigate with split-second timing for their jumps and swings.
The game is split up into four worlds, each of which offers somewhat non-linear level progression. Each world is made up of a hexagon grid map, offering multiple routes to reach the final level of that world.
Harder levels are marked with a skull, while some locked levels require keys to unlock, which can be found while running through certain stages.
It gives Rock Runners a more satisfying sense of progression, and also acts as a teaser for the remaining levels, giving players a reason to come back for more.
Rock Runners takes several levels to really get challenging, but once it hits its stride it can be a fantastic speedy platformer.
> Download 'Rock Runners' from the App Store
Platforms: iPhone, iPad, Android
Oddland brings the exciting world of post-apocalyptic pistol duels to smartphones. The pistol duels use a unique control scheme where tilting the device strafes left and right while a virtual joystick aims your pistol and tapping a giant fire button to shoot.
There are options to adjust the sensitivity of both, and after considerable fiddling the controls work fairly well.
I say fairly well because there is still a major issue: reloading. To reload you need to shake the device, and fairly vigorously at that. Since you're shaking the device, it is nearly impossible to move while reloading, meaning your opponent gets between two and four free shots.
As you progress, with some enemies that is all they'll need to win, so reloading becomes a bit of an issue.
Players can choose their class of gunslinger and customize their character's stats and equipment as they gain experience from duels. Of course, the best gear is locked through in-app purchases, but it is at least possible to upgrade your existing equipment with duel earnings.
Duels are just a means to an end though, with the ultimate goal being to dominate a map of the wild west. Each turn you and various boss characters move about the map, painting territories with your respective colour.
Each territory brings a new encounter, with the occasional blackjack-style card game adding some variety between duels.
Oddland has a solid idea behind its take on mobile fist-person shooters, but control difficulties with reloading make the duels more frustrating than fun. Shaking the device is never a great control option, and even less so when under fire.
It looks fantastic though, and as a free-to-play game is worth a look, even if only for the hope that a virtual reload button is added in the next update.
> Download 'Oddland' from the App Store
> Download 'Oddland' from the Google Play Store
What mobile releases have you been playing recently? Add a comment in the space below!