Reviews

Star Wars: Battle for Hoth - app review

Like Star Wars? Like tower defense games? Then you might want to take a look at THQs recent release Star Wars: Battle for Hoth for iPhone. 

The game premise is that of all tower defense games; prevent your enemy (in this case the Imperial Empire) from reaching the other said of the map. As you play the game you get a fairly diverse set of units to deploy in defending Hoth. But, before I get into that, let's look at play mechanics first. 

You start Battle for Hoth with some simple ground troop units and a shovel. The shovel allows you to alter the landscape of the level and force units to move a certain route. This is a great tool in later levels as you can really funnel the Empire to their doom. When you place your units and they destroy a wave of Imperials, you are rewarded with a green wrench icon you have to touch to collect. This gives you points to build or upgrade units. You have to be fast though if you wait too long the wrench will change color to orange then red, decreasing the point value. Wait too long, and your points are gone forever.

As you play through the 15 levels you unlock more types of units including; seated blaster units, radar lasers, turrets, snow speeders, x-wings, shield generators and ion cannons. Some of the more complex units like the ion cannon, shield generators and turrets require an energy generator placed next to them. The energy generator is required to power those units. If you upgrade a unit (say the shield generator) without upgrading the energy unit, you run the risk of losing power to that unit so you always have to keep it in check. 

You can upgrade your existing units to make them more powerful and sell them as needed. I found the most fun in the game building up units under the safety of the shield generator and then taking out AT-ATs with relative ease once my units were upgraded to the maximum.

When writing this review, I have to admit I had some distaste for this game. Simple and not a lot of variety in what appeared to be a shameless use of an awesome gaming license. However, after I made my video review above, I am having a bit of a change of heart. I think I am trying to make Battle of Hoth more than it is;  a simple Star Wars-themed tower defense game to kill a view minutes in your day while standing in line to get groceries. Should you get it? If you are a Star Wars fan I think you will enjoy. If not, I would pass. 

[$2.99- iTunes Link]

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Let's Golf 2 for iPad- app review

I was excited to see that Let's Golf 2 just appeared in the App Store! I am not a golfer in real life, but I enjoy a good golf game every once in a while. Let's jump right in and see what this new version has to offer.

Let's Golf 2 is not meant as a real golf simulation like a Tiger Woods Golf. Instead, you are greeted with cute, often funny characters in outlandish environments that are beautiful and colorful. This does not mean that the levels are easy, in fact they become quite challenging later in the game (how can that be a par 4, impossible!)

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Incipio Feather Ultra Thin Case for iPhone 4 - accessory review

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I have just finished my stint with the Incipio Feather Ultra Thin Case for iPhone 4 (hence-forth "Feather", that title is just way too long). What can I say? I like! The really thin nature of the case and the grip it provides is really nice. Plus, there are some extra benefits too. Keep reading to see all you get with this awesome case.

The first thing you will notice when you open the packaging for this case is that you get more than just a case, you also receive two surface protectors and a cleaning cloth. This is a very nice value for the price of this case ($23.95). The case itself is, as described, light and thin. It adds minimal thickness to the iPhone 4 and has a nice grip too it. I often refer to this as "grippy" plastic. Not slippery, but adds enough traction to be useful and stick in your pocket. The cut of the case is very precise. The back is completely covered except the camera and flash exposed. The case is very flush against the back with no real room for lint to enter. The sides flush as well. In fact, once you slip on the case, it can be a challenge to take it off. This, is a good thing.

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Birdbrain for iPhone - App Review

YouTube Link

Birdbrain for iPhone [iTunes Link] is an app that aggregates your Twitter statistics such as followers, following, blocked, and several other variables into one app.  It also shows you differences in how many followers you've gained or lost.  You can also see the specific people that have started following you or stopped following you.  Clicking on a user will also allow you to view certain statistics about that user.

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We Farm for iPad - app review

We Farm for iPad is a real-time farming game by ngmoco. If you're familiar with We Rule, We Farm is very similar except that your are building a farm instead of kingdom.

As with most ngmoco games, you must have a plus+ account to play. If you don't have one already, signing up is simple. When you first start playing We Farm, the game takes you through a little tutorial which is pretty helpful.

The goal of We Farm is to raise money and build your farm. You raise money by growing crops, raising animals, and receiving and placing orders with friends. Almost everything you do yields experience points. As you level, more items are available for purchase; higher level buildings will output more money. You will also be able to upgrade your farm as you level which gives you more space and gives you a nicer looking farmhouse. You can also turn on notifications to alert you when certain tasks are complete. However, they do not work for me. I've asked around and apparently I'm the only with this problem.

There are two currencies used in We Farm. The first is gold and is what you make doing various farm tasks and buying items. The other is Gro. This is used to instantly complete tasks like growing crops, building buildings, fulfilling an order, raising animals, and increasing your animals' happiness. You earn Gro every time you level and is also available as an in-app purchase.

My biggest complaint of We Farm is animal raising. To make your animal happy, you have to periodically "pet" it. Each pet increases the animal's happiness by 5%. The happier your animal is, the better chance he has of winning a prize at the fair. Once you win a prize, your pen/coop/pasture becomes available for your friends to place orders at. This means you make a lot more money from it. The problem is that if you have an animal that takes 2 hours to raise, you must come back every 6 minutes during that 2 hour period to get the happiness to 100%. This is an unrealistic expectation in my eyes. Of course, you can get around this by using Gro, but We Farm doesn't provide enough Gro to use it on all animals before needing to spend real money. However, the happier your animal is, the less Gro it takes to bring him to 100% happiness, so my strategy is to pet my animals as much as I can, then use grow at the end to bring it to 100%.

Another small complaint I have is that there isn't a way to quickly return to your own farm when visiting someone else's farm. I'd like to a small icon to tap in the corner of all farms that quickly takes to your farm.

All in all, I enjoy playing We Farm. However, you must like time management games to have fun with this one. I have been impressed with the performance of the app; it runs smoothly, I've never received a memory error (a common problem with We Rule), nor has it ever crashed. So if you're a fan of these types of games, check out We Farm - it's free!

Screenshots after the break!

[Free - iTunes link]

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Macally Bookstand case for iPad - accessory review

Looking for an iPad case that doubles as a stand? Overwhelmed by the options? If you desire one that's nice and slim, your search may be over. The Macally Bookstand for iPad is a form fitting, yet protective case that can be used as a stand when in landscape.

The iPad snaps into the Macally Bookstand at each corner. This makes it very easy to take your iPad in and out of the case. It also means that the corners are the only spots on the edge of the iPad that are protected. This doesn't bother me; in fact, I prefer it. I'm a fan of slim cases that show off as much of the iPad as possible, so seeing the aluminum edges is a plus in my book. But if you're of the opposite mindset and want as much protection as possible, this case is not for you.

The front of the case is thin and kind of flimsy, but it holds up really well. About a third of the way from the inside, there is a seem in it which allows it to bend. Bending the front of the case to the back and sliding the flap into the provided slip gives the case a triangular shape. Now you can have your iPad at a nice typing angle on a table or your lap, or stand it up tall for easy viewing. I was nervous that touching the iPad would cause it to fall when having it stand tall, but this is not that case. The Macally Bookstand is nice and sturdy.

The outside of the Macally Bookstand is made from a velvet-like material that feels nice. However, it is prone to collecting lint and dirt. It is fairly obvious on the black one I've been using, but I suspect that it wouldn't look as bad on the gray one. I found that the easiest way to clean it is with an upholstery attachment on a vacuum cleaner hose - it only takes a few seconds.

If you’re looking for a slim stand case for your iPad, check out the Macally Bookstand for iPad available now from the TiPb iPad accessory store.

Photos after the break.

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Golla vs. Otterbox Defender in iPhone 4 BJJ Death Match

If you had to go into a Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu death match with your precious iPhone 4, which case would you be better off taking with you -- the Golla Stunt Pouch or Otterbox Defender? Soft, plush fabric with the security of a magnetic flap and belt loop, or hard plastic beneath flexible silicone in a easy on, easy off holster? That's the challenge they put to me and my husband, Antony in the debut episode of TiPb's Amazing Case, our hardcore, case vs case tests of strength, durability, and performance.

We figure if either -- or both -- of these cases can survive being slammed to the mats, rolled on and over, pinned and punished, then they can survive pretty much whatever normal, day-to-day use throws at them.

Follow on after the jump for the tale of the tape, and the give-away!

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Guide to Jailbreaking iPhone 4 and iPad

How to Jailbreak iPhone 4 on iOS 4.x and iPad on iOS 3.2.x with Jailbreakme.com

Jailbreakers can rejoice again as not only has the iOS4 jailbreak been updated, iPhone 4 users can now jailbreak as well! iPad users are also included, whether you're running 3.2 or 3.2.1, the jailbreak should work for you either way. If you haven't done so already, here's a list of things to do before and after jailbreaking!

And before you proceed, here's the normal disclaimer;

Jailbreaking can and will void the warranty on your device. Should something go wrong, the responsibility is your own, so proceed with caution. If you feel uncomfortable jailbreaking your device, it's probably best if you don't. But if you're okay with all that, read on!

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Hero of Sparta II- app review

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.

[$6.99- iTunes Link]

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OmniFocus for iPad- app review

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 :-)

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