You know the drill, if you're a developer and you want the latest, greatest iOS 4.1 beta 3 for your iPhone or iPod touch, head on over to Apple and get it.
No word yet on what, if any new features it might contain but we're still guessing we won't see anything too spectacular until Steve Jobs takes the stage for the annual iPod and iTunes event in September, and sh
Can Gameloft deliver with their sequel to Hero of Sparta? I think the answer is a resounding yes. Though not perfect, Hero of Sparta II (HOS2) delivers pure action and colorful graphics on Apple's noble iPhone and iPod Touch.
HOS2 is an action game spun in the Greek mythological era of the Gods and Goddesses. You play the warrior Argos. I won't get into his story here, but in this game you are sent on a path of redemption. You return to Earth after spending some buddy time with Hades and immediately the action starts. The controls are different than its predecessor. The main diffidence is that Argos can now jump. This adds a much needed play mechanic to HOS2. In the weapon department, you start off with the basic shield and sword. After every level or so, you start to collect a variety of different and useful weapons including: wings that can be used to glide and attack, a helmet that give Argos the ability hurls fireballs, and my favorite the claws which give you God of War like attacks against your enemies.
The levels are mostly linear, but on occasion you can find a hidden area that has extra gems. You can collect red balls that can be used to increase the attack and magical attack of each weapon. Blue gems to replenish magic and green gems to gain back health. You can also collect additional gems that can be added to your weapon of choice to gain attack/magic bonuses like a +2 to attack, for example.
Pulling off attacks is fun. You have an attack button that when pressed successively, gives you a combo attack on your enemy. However, you can add a modifier to your attack by swiping up, down, left and right. If you use the down motion it will typically cause a "shield break" maneuver with your selected weapon to destroy a shield or some other object. Using the up swipe will launch your enemy in the air for you to unless even more combos.
I am very pleased with the variety of levels in HOS2. You have a lot of different interactive events from running acorss a crumbling bridge to swinging with the claw weapon like a vine to climbing towers. The enemies in HOS2 are not as great. I found that I was constantly fighting the same 3-4 enemies every time with an occasional 5th monster added just for variety. A new enemy feature which is enjoyable is "taking control" of the enemy. For example, the Minator can be controlled by following a series of button presses on screen. You can then control the Minator and attack the baddies. Regretfully, there is not much of a boss battle. There is a boss at the end of every level in HOS2, but you rarely actually attack them. Instead, you typically dodge their attacks or dodge environmental variables. This is somewhat disappointing, but there is plenty of action when fighting during the levels.
The graphics have really be stepped up in this release. There is an insane amount of detail close up with a wide variety of color and textures; make no doubt, HOS2 is very pretty and impressive. However, all of this comes at a controversial cost in this reviewers opinion; framerate. HOS2 moves nicely if you are in a relatively enclosed area with a couple of enemies, but this is rarely the case. You are typically fighting 5 or more bad guys at once in an open area and this is where the framrate begins to suffer. I estimate this game runs at an average of 15-20 frames per second. This can become frustrating when trying to string combos together,etc. I can only hope that Gameloft will update this app soon. Gameloft did an awesome update to GT Motoracing Academy to the pleasure of many fans and I hope that they do the same here.
Overall, HOS2 is a must buy for any action fan. If you are looking for the silky smooth framerate of say, N.O.V.A, look elsewhere. If you want a solid, fun action game that pays homage to God of War, then this is the game for you.
Steve Jobs say Apple is the largest start-up in the world, and Posterous CEO Sachin Agarwal not only experienced it, but says that's why things like Apple's own Remote App for iPhone haven't been updated for iPad, iPhone 4, or iOS 4:
Yes, the Remote app is due for an update. But here's why it hasn't been updated: the person who wrote it is busy working on other things. Yes, the person, not the team. (He's a good friend of mine)
By now you probably know that I am big into productivity apps and I am always looking for the next big thing. I use a lot of task management apps on the iPad, and there are some great ones for sure. However, I have just come across the ultimate task management app for your iPad; OmniFocus. This is, without a doubt the best app for utilizing David Allen's "Getting Things Done" (GTD) methodology. What makes this app stand out so much are three things: good design, Forecast and Review. But, I am probably getting ahead of myself. Let's start at the beginning. Note, a lot of the features I am going to discuss are not unique to OmniFocus, but I think it is fair to describe them so you know what is contained in GTD and can get a better grasp for how it is used. For this review I literally rebuilt my tasks in the app form scratch except for the made-up Inbox screenshot below. I had to do that since I am already organized :-)
Kaboom's Paratrooper is simple in theory -- tap the plane to drop the paratrooper, tilt your iPhone or iPod touch to direct them to the landing spot. And right there is where every casual gaming fan knows the addiction starts and the mayhem begins.
You want to hit the X. You need to hit that X. Things get more complicated quickly, of course. Obstacles build up. They're paratroopers after all, not sky divers. So don't be surprised when you start having to leap -- and land -- into the middle of a paper-art war zone. (Yeah, paper-art. Awesome.)
As you all know by now, we're still watching for iOS4 updates that crop up in the app store, and as always, if you guys see interesting ones, feel free to let us know. Here's the ones we found in the last week or so, and if you haven't checked for updates, go check that update tab and let us know if you caught something we didn't!
Apple's newly renamed iOS Developer News feed has released two notes today, one on exciting new features in iTunes connect, and the other announcing iAd for Developers -- a great way to promote apps, in apps.
Plunderland is Apple's App of the Week this week. Does it deserve it? Yes and no. Developer JohnnyTwoShoes has made a solid effort to bring pillaging across the sea in the hands of eager gamers.
The premise of Plunderland is you are a ghost with pirates that sail across the sea to attack and sink enemy ships, pillage tribes people and take money from their monuments then make it to the next port. Sounds fun? Well, get used to it because that is what you do over, and over, and over again with little variety. Call me a stinker, but I don't see the allure with this game.
Sure, the water physics are nice. You tilt the iPhone left or right to make your boat move in that direction. When there is a storm, etc, the water behaves in a more erratic manor, making maneuvering more difficult. Once you are on the high seas, you come across your enemy; the British warships. You have a couple ways to take them out. First is to use your ships cannon. You have a nifty way of angling the cannon to shoot your targets, just move your finger along the bottom and you will get a reticule via a line that helps your aiming. Release your finger and you fire your cannonballs. Second, you can use the enemies cannonballs against themselves. Before the enemy launches an attack, the cannon will puff smoke, that is your cue to ready your finger and deflect the cannonball back upon the enemy ship and with luck, split it in two!
I know, I make it sound exhilarating, and it is the first two or three times you do it. Sadly, Plunderland does little to keep your attention. Future attacks add blimps and more, but the fun is gone by that point. The attacking villagers is a simple "tap, tap. tap" on the totems to get money and fling some villagers around in an effort to extract some more dough. Again... zzzz...
There is nice upgrade system though, you can upgrade your ship, cannons and bowsprits by earning said money above. The game has excellent promise. The controls, physics and graphical style all lend them selves to a success. However, the bland I really, really wanted to like this game, being highlighted on Apple's App Store, but alas, mateys, I just can't bring myself to recommend this lack-luster treasure.
UPDATE: I had a delightful Twitter chat with the developers. I explained that I had played 50% thorough the game and became unchallenged with the levels and objectives. They understood and are looking at a way to unlock the more exciting and complex levels earlier for more "hardcore" gamers. I also said that when I find the time to complete the game 100%, I would update this review to include my findings. I am hopeful that by the time I do this, they will have some new content available. You can follow the developer on Twitter here.