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Gaming Review

Mobile reviews: 'Tetris Blitz', 'Combo Crew' and more

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Released on Tuesday, May 28 2013

Each week, Digital Spy rounds up the biggest mobile gaming releases with reviews and trailers. This week's games include a fast-paced remake of a classic puzzle game, an all-out brawl, the running of the bulls and a post-apocalyptic scooter ride.

Tetris Blitz
Platforms: iPhone, iPad, Android
Price: Free, with in-app purchases

Tetris Blitz sees the classic puzzle game of falling blocks attempt to fit in with the free-to-play movement on mobile devices.

You are given two minutes to clear as many lines as possible, using a new control scheme designed for faster play. Rather than directly positioning and rotating pieces as they fall, Tetris Blitz provides several outlines of where a piece could land, and players need only tap on the one they want to place it.

'Tetris Blitz' on iOS

© EA

'Tetris Blitz' on iOS

'Tetris Blitz' on iOS

© EA

'Tetris Blitz' on iOS



There is still a rotate button, which cycles to the next set of three or four landing locations, but it is rather limiting in the options it provides. It is also limiting in terms of creative puzzle solving, since the bold piece outlines focus your attention on only a few possibilities instead of letting you search for the best fit.

Because of the time limit, the game starts with a few almost complete lines to build up a score. Clearing enough lines also activates a frenzy mode, which lets blocks fall to fill in gaps and make it even easier to clear more lines.

For purists, the classic play style can be found hidden in the options, using swipes and taps to move and rotate pieces. However, the classic controls are significantly slower than the default option, so for the blitz style of play it's understandable why the change was made.

Tetris Blitz still suffers though, mostly due to the fact that two minutes is hardly enough time to do much of anything in Tetris. The whole point of Tetris was always that it was a game of endurance, with the tension building as blocks fall faster and faster.

Even though the controls were adapted for shorter rounds, the fundamentals of the game remain unchanged. As a result, every round feels incomplete, leaving you wanting more, but more of something other than Tetris Blitz.


> Download 'Tetris Blitz' from the App Store
> Download 'Tetris Blitz' from the Google Play Store




Combo Crew
Platforms: iPhone, iPad, Android
Price: £1.49 / $1.99

Combo Crew is a new mobile brawler from the makers of brilliant strategy games Squids and Squids: Wild West.

Players pick from four different fighters, two unlocked from the start, and fight their way through waves of enemies in an enclosed arena.

'Combo Crew' on iOS

© The Game Bakers

'Combo Crew' on iOS



The controls are simple and effective, with swipes across an enemy to attack and tapping anywhere on the screen to counter-attack when an enemy takes a swing. You can also hold your finger on the screen to charge up your attacks, allowing you to break past blocking enemies.

There are also special combo attacks, which can be performed by swiping with two fingers. Swiping up, down, left and right will perform different combos, which you can determine from a combo list before each match.

There are a ton of combos to collect for each character, slowly unlocked as you complete matches and specific side-goals.

Even with the wide range of combos, the game begins to feel repetitive before too long as it's relatively easy to find one effective combo to spam while tapping to counter-attack in between.

Combo Crew is a fun brawler with plenty of content for players to dive into, but all of that content doesn't mean much after a while as it all starts to blend together.


> Download 'Combo Crew' from the App Store
> Download 'Combo Crew' from the Google Play Store



Running with Friends
Platforms: iPhone, iPad
Price: Free, with in-app purchases

Zynga has tapped into yet another popular mobile game trend with its latest Running with Friends.

Borrowing from a myriad of infinite runner games already available, players are constantly propelled forward using swipes to change between three lanes as well as swiping up to jump and down to duck.

'Running with Friends' on iOS

© Zynga

'Running with Friends' on iOS

'Running with Friends' on iOS

© Zynga

'Running with Friends' on iOS



The randomly generated courses have plenty of obstacles, including secret side paths and ramps to reach higher ground, but it's nothing that hasn't been done a dozen or more times in other games.

Where Running with Friends stands out is its social integration, letting you challenge friends to see who is the best runner. Players challenge each other to three rounds, taking asynchronous turns with the scores added up after all three attempts.

It can be a lot of fun to go toe to toe with your Facebook friend list. You can also challenge random opponents, but it's not nearly as satisfying as friendly rivalries with those you know.

Since the game is all about competing against one opponent for a high score, the boosts and power-ups take on a much more significant role. With friends you can agree to some amount of regulation, but joining a random match can quickly turn from free-to-play into pay-to-win.

With lots of friends to play against, Running with Friends is definitely worth a download. But if your social circle isn't on board, then there are far better infinite runner games out there.


> Download 'Combo Crew' from the App Store



Dead Ahead
Platforms: iPhone, iPad
Price: Free, with in-app purchases

Rather than a massive truck or heavily armed vehicle, Dead Ahead drops players into the zombie apocalypse riding on an average motor scooter.

Piloting your scooter is simple, as you swipe up and down on the right side of the screen to weave across the road dodging car wrecks, potholes and road barricades blocking your path.

'Dead Ahead' on iOS

© Chillingo

'Dead Ahead' on iOS



Two buttons on the right help you defend yourself, with the ability to speed up your scooter or shoot backward with your gun of choice. You can also run over zombies wandering the road ahead of you, so there is never a need to shoot forward.

Hitting smaller obstacles or running over zombies slows you down though, which lets an ever-present pack of zombies gain ground as they chase you. While it's nice to have the gun as a last resort, the highest combos are reached by coercing zombies to crash into other road obstacles, rewarding players for reckless driving and close calls.

After each attempt and for completing side-objectives you'll be awarded coins, which can be used to buy better vehicles like a proper motorcycle, along with upgrade from a pistol to shotguns and rifles.

Dead Ahead's short bursts of gameplay are well suited to mobile gaming. A few intrusive ads threaten to hold the game back, but don't let that scare you off from the best use of a scooter in gaming.


> Download 'Dead Ahead' from the App Store



What mobile releases have you been playing recently? Add your comment below!

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