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Scribblenauts Unlimited Review

Nov 30, 2012

After playing the original Scribblenauts on the DS, it felt like there was a lot of potential there.  It was neat to be able to type just about any word and have it appear on screen. Scribblenauts Unlimited is no different except that it has masterfully executed the core concepts from the original DS title. This time around our rooster hat wearing hero, Maxwell, gets a back story. As it turns out, Maxwell is actually one of 43 kids. He receives a magic notebook that lets him create anything he writes, while his only sister, Lily, has the ability to travel anywhere in the world. After upsetting an old man, a curse is placed on Lily and it’s up to Maxwell to save his sister.

Hybrid Review

Aug 13, 2012

– Scott Ellison

Our Score: 4 / 5 – Awesome

In an ambitious leap for 5th Cell from handhelds and mobile devices to consoles comes a futuristic third-person cover-based shooter. While that perhaps sounds uninteresting or displeasing, the concept of how you actually mobilize yourself from cover to cover and movement in general might surprise you. Equipped with a jetpack, you take cover and can move on that plane and can jump from cover to cover putting yourself in danger of being hit if timed wrong. Surfaces aren’t always normal orientation, sometimes you’ll take cover on walls sideways or on the ceiling being upsidedown.

There’s a war going on. And it involves the clean, pristine Variants and the militaristic Paladins. The Variants have seemingly begun to invade this unnamed planet. Now both factions are vying for control over Dark Matter that arrived with the Variants. And that’s about all the story you get in Hybrid. From there the story plays out from gameplay interactions. Logging into the game for the first time, you are posed with a choice – a commitment. Which faction do you choose: Variant or Paladin? The choice itself doesn’t matter, as both camps play exactly the same – just are aesthetically different in character and weapon design. There was an incentive for joining the Variants and was able to go straight to Level 5 if I joined the Variants. Paladins did not offer any bonuses for joining.

Should you decide you want to play for the other team for a change, you can. There is an option dug deep into the Extras to swap, and once done you can’t go back. At least, not until the next “season” starts, which the developers have stated should be around two weeks – depending on the players. So ultimately around every two weeks you can swap factions to unlock items and gear. While participating for one faction or the other, the friends list you see is a bit deceptive. If you’re a Paladin, you won’t see your friends who are Variants, and vice versa.

The World Map allows you to drop into an area and contest for control for your faction. Owning it brings bonuses to the faction over time. To get to the Dark Matter, tiers and many battles must be completed. The first faction there gets 2 Dark Matter, the second team to reach it only gets 1 Dark Matter. The map will designate “Hot Spots” to which your faction is working towards the center. If you jump in to assist, you will earn and additional 150XP just for being there.

Persistence is almost a requirement in any game with multiplayer. It provides the carrot on the stick to keep the progression and motivation going. Hybrid follows that trend, but with style and grace. As with each new rank you can unlock a weapon from a category it designates. There are about 4-5 weapons per category: Shotgun, Heavy Pistol, SMG, Assault Rifle, and Sniper Rifle. Only two special weapons fill out that category, and are highly effective. An unchangeable secondary weapon is a pistol, so don’t go looking for a way to swap it out. You can change the look of your character only through new helmets, including bonuses like “Steve” from Minecraft as an unlockable Helmet at Level 20 for either side or a Paper Bag of Shame. This is all done outside of battle in the Armory

At anytime in the game, you can change your loadout to something more effective. There are no set rules, just swap out primary weapon, ability, and specialization. Abilities range from popping a temporary shield to absorb damage to a syphon which with each hit from your weapon will take that enemy’s health from their life bar (which does regenerate if left alone). Specializations can be upgraded through play and boost XP gains, buff damage, or increase armor. Though specializations reset after each season – so don’t get too attached to the benefits of the upgrades.

The game is pretty generous when you get your first kill, as it’ll start a Kill Streak allowing you to release the first of three drones, known as a Stalker to release to help fight by your side. The next drone is much tougher and does more damage, the Warbringer. The last drone is a one-time use robotic assassin known as the Seeker that releases a shrill as it hones in on its target and dissects it.

Music is subtle throughout the game but synthesized keyboard and beats in menus and at the start of games helps evoke the futuristic setting you’re placed in. The Source Engine works real hard here, producing top-notch visuals at 60fps, just unfortunately the loading times get a bit long in the tooth. Weapons sound good and different while packing a punch from your bass.

Hybrid being an online-only game has a lot going against it, as there is no singleplayer to fall back on. Though, a singleplayer story given the gameplay would be either too easy or boring. The game is incredibly well-designed, thought out and has unique mechanics worthy of your time and money to invest in such a quick and easy multiplayer game that has strong competitive ties and unending goals to achieve.

Retails for: $14.99, Recommended Purchase Price: $14.99

A review code was provided by PR for review purposes

E3 2012: Hybrid

Jun 10, 2012

5th Cell’s latest game is a third person team shooter with cover based mechanics. There’s a twist though, you don’t have free movement. You pick cover to jump to and can move anytime you want. Since you’re wearing a jet pack to jump cover to cover you can press in the left stick to essentially sprint and get you to cover faster. You can use the left stick as you’re moving to new cover to raise your lower yourself. Raising yourself puts you in danger of dying or a chance to finish off the enemy before you land. You can even choose new cover as you’re moving to the old cover.

Hybrid is an online multiplayer game, there’s no singleplayer here. That’s not to say there’s a lack of story, there’s two warring factions in this post-apocalyptic world, the Variants vs the Paladins. It has the typical controls of left trigger to aim and right to shoot. There’s upgrades, ranks, load outs and a ton of fun here – 5th Cell knows how to make a game. I only saw one mode in my time with the game, where you capture and control points from the enemy. But I’m told there’s up to 10 maps and modes when the game releases. Oh and it’s worth noting we were playing against the Devs and in my demo I had the most kills and won the round.

Hybrid will be part of the Summer of Arcade on XBLA.

Scribblenauts Remix Review

Oct 24, 2011

– Bill Rastello

Our Score: 4 / 5 – Awesome

Scribblenauts, the highly praised DS game, has, surprisingly, come to iOS in the form of Scribblenauts Remix. Needless to say, I got insanely excited. The idea behind Scribblenauts – create anything you can to solve the puzzle – really intrigued me, and to have it on my phone and tablet sounded even better. I’ll be writing this review as someone who hasn’t played Scribblenauts before. For those who have, note that most of the content in this game is from the original version, with some new iOS-exclusive levels mixed in.

The idea behind the game itself is really simple – you are controlling a character named Maxwell who has to complete certain tasks – getting from point A to point B, helping a pirate find his stopwatch, or generally taking care of other tasks. You do this by bringing up a notepad and creating objects. The game recognizes an incredible amount of objects, like “cat” or “happy dancing purple steamroller.” This allows for a ton of ways to complete the levels you encounter. There is often times a very obvious solution, or one that you could create by having some sort of fireproof large boat. The possibilities are nearly endless, and with the title screen being a sandbox, you can spend time just messing around creating whatever you can.

Controls are handled in two ways. The first way involves purely touch, holding your finger on the screen to do various things like move your viewpoint, move Maxwell, or interact with objects. The second mode brings up two virtual joysticks, one for movement of Maxwell, one for movement of the view of the level, with touch being reserved purely for object interaction. I found the second one preferable as, with my bigger fingers, I often pressed the wrong object and either ruined the level or took longer to complete the level. The fact that they included two control modes is a huge plus, and I’m sure that someone with smaller fingers would be able to use the touch-only mode a lot better.

Graphically, this game looks and performs great, especially on the iPad 2. The developers really spent time making this more than just a quick port. The graphics are crisp, animations well done, and everything performs and looks great on both iPhone and iPad. This game, having been released alongside iOS 5, has iCloud support, making switching between your iDevices a breeze. You don’t have to replay the levels on one device if you already finished them on another.

The only real issue I have ran into so far doesn’t have to do with the object creation, graphics, performance, or gameplay elements itself. This game can be easy, almost too easy, and can be completed quickly. There are currently 5 worlds, and after only a few hours of gameplay, I am halfway through the fifth world. If this was a 99 cent game, this would make more sense, but at $5, I would almost expect more gameplay. There is the possibility for more levels to be added in the future, which, if free, would eliminate this point entirely, and there are achievements to chase after in Game Center, but I feel like there should be more levels here.

Regardless of that point, if you do have the $5 to spare and want to play one of the more original games out there right now, Scribblenauts Remix is a good choice. It provides a few solid hours of good gameplay, and with the ability to create just about any object you want to complete a level, your dream of creating a passive flying hippo can come true. I recommend this.

Retails for: $4.99, recommended purchase price: $3.49