App and Game ReviewsWhen I started writing app and game reviews, I had no idea what I was doing. So much seemed like magic, but I buckled down and found a way to do reviews with screenshots and a large amount of text. After trying hard to make that work, I was bogged down in the review cycle – apps were coming into and out of my life before I could give them a proper review. On my iPad, I had a folder containing almost 100 Applications that were waiting for reviews before I deleted them. Something had to give… After some hard coding and wading through the App Store API, I found a way to introduce a standardized rating system for my reviews and direct app store links. Instead of uploading a huge amount of screenshots I shoot a screen-recording of the App put it up as a embedded video. Now every review I put out is for games that are current, includes a video of gameplay, has screenshots, includes up-to-date pricing, and an overall rating. That is progress! My reviews are focused on five specific areas – although most applications will only get a review in three of those categories. I specifically look at the interface/usability of the app, how engaging that app is, and my final rating is a meta-score regarding the apps productivity value, overall gaming value, and/or educational value. All of the apps that I review will fit into one of those three major categories. You can see my full rubric by clicking on this link.
Tutanota is one of the “up-and-coming” encrypted email providers. What I like about Tutanota is the ability to send emails to anyone – regardless of if they have the encryption keys or not. As the video shows, you can send messages to anyone with a predefined password. You will of course need to communicate with those folks to give them the “secure” password. Tutanota is free right now and has a wonderful app (and is one of the few encrypted services that does). There is a soft spot in my heart for TutaNota – simply because it was one of the first Zero-Knowledge providers that I began to work with. For a free service, they cannot be beat – organization of emails is easy, creating emails is simple, and the app is streamlined. They are missing two very important things: Drafts and PGP Support.
SpiderOak is one of my favorite Zero-Knowledge companies. A few months ago, I was sent a promotion on “Supporting internet Privacy” and a locked price “Unlimited” storage amount on SpiderOak. Up until that point, I had not even heard of the company – or Zero-Knowledge for that matter. I jumped in to see what it was like, while I still sorted out my 1Tb Google Drive.
That is a great question! I had not heard of the Circle until I started researching how to make the internet free. When you do that research (and you should), you will come across several important names: Edward Snowden (the notorious whistle-blower), Julian Assange (founder of Wikileaks), Sir Tim Burners Lee (widely credited with creating the internet), and usually Phil Zimmerman. Phil Zimmerman created a program known as PGP – or pretty good privacy. When he created it in 1990, he was arrested by the US Government for distributing encryption systems across borders. After winning his court case in 1996, Phil has worked tirelessly to create systems that ensure privacy on the internet. His most recent project is the Silent Circle.
Dead Trigger is one of my favorite iOS franchises. Even though it has been in my Pocket since I first owned an iPhone 3, I have never taken the time to review a game in the franchise. When the first game came out, I spent hours leveling my character so that I could smoke a couple of zombies with the crossbow and golden gun. Dead Trigger had everything you wanted: waves of endless zombies, creative weapons, and an engaging storyline. Dead Trigger 2 has been out for some time now and it takes the mold made by Dead Trigger and creates a more engaging story and improves upon its own gameplay mechanics.
Eclipse is an epic board game. I have not had the pleasure of trying the physical game, but I have seen it played in videos. What an intense game!
Eclipse for the iPad is also a significant undertaking. If you have never seen the game before, think of it as a mixture of Carcassonne and Risk. Each player uses a turn to expand (placing tiles), build armies and fleets, or grow their economic might. As the game evolves, it becomes more and more difficult. Players change the physical board in each round, making more opportunities and removing play options each turn. I have seen strategies range from Isolationist to Scientific to Conquest. In my world, Eclipse fills a critical gaming niche: Hardcore SciFi Strategy.
This game is old, for the app store, but is a fantastic game that I have not had a chance to review yet.
When I was in college, say 10 years ago, my friends and I would play board games. I very clearly remember the first time we played Axis and Allies. It is a game about managing resources, waging war, and making strategic alliances. The only games that have ever come close to that on the iPad are the European War Series.
A few months ago, I wrote about the more recent game in the European War Series, the Napoleon Wars. In that game, you can control the forces of the American and French revolutions. In European War 2, you explore a different, more recent, and more publicized war, World War 2.
Tap to kill your enemies! World of Warriors is a hybrid Deck Building and Fighting game. As you engage in combat, you have to tap dropped items and resources to add them to your characters. As you progress through the game you are give access to more and more characters, but I won’t spoil the video, take a look.
Wolfenstein 3D for iPad. Do I really need to say anything else?…
… I guess I do. This is a classic game, and that is about the only reason to get it. If you want the nostalgia of playing Wolf 3D on your iPad, more power to you. I played the game a lot when I was a kid, and after a few minutes of playing on the iPad, I was ready to move on. I suspect that the shelf life will be short for this game, and this kind of port in general.
If Rovio had done Angry Birds Transformers correctly, this would be it! Monsu is a great side scrolling platformer/endless runner.
You control Monsu, a green ogre who is chasing some gnomes who carry a chest full of gold. Along the way, you will pass a large number of defenses and try to not fall to your death. As you progress, you find that this is actually a Deck Building game! You collect cards to earn companions and special powers on the battlefield. This game is immediately playable and has a great tutorial to familiarize you with the controls. Even though it is easy to get started, the challenges and leveling becomes increasingly difficult, keeping you engaged and working to progress.
This is a great game, and it will certainly last a long time on my iPad before I move on to other games in a similar vein.